I’m so proud of one of our own hometown heros! Adrian Fogelin hails from North Florida and while I’ve heard much about her prior to this, I’ve never gotten around to dipping into her most renowned novel CROSSING JORDAN.
I’m so glad I did.
CROSSING JORDAN opens with 12-year-old Cass spying on the new neighbors through a hole in the fence. The fence didn’t use to be there, only when Cass’s father discovered it was an African-American family moving in, did he build it, which doesn’t go unnoticed by the new family. And it certainly doesn’t say, welcome to the neighborhood.
Through this same hole in the fence, Cass begins a fledgling, out-of-bounds friendship with Jemmie, who also loves to run. The girls meet down at the track every moring and discover that they are evenly matched. This competitive friendship turns into something more, as Cass and Jemmie start hanging out off the track. Together they read aloud fom Jane Eyre and try to decipher all those big words, which is a real treat–to hear their take on this epic lovestory. Cass’s friendship with Jemmie challenges everything Cass has been taught by her father about “ethnics.”
In CROSSING JORDAN, Fogelin explores the seeds of racism and the roots that hold it in place. With Jemmie and Cass we feel their struggle against the thorny vine of such a multi-layered institution. Fogelin takes the very broad subject of race relations and gives it a face, or rather two faces, one black and one white. In a gentle and compassionate way, we see how prejudice and fear can be vanquished by love and understanding. It’s a story about race and it’s a story about neighbors.
The girls nickname themselves Chocolate Milk and fantasize about winning school track races. With their will, determination and friendship, these two will cross more than just the finish lines. They will do it together.