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The Parker Inheritance (Hardcover)
Spring 2018 Kids’ Indie Next List
“Absolutely brilliant. A great balance between the satisfaction of solving a mystery along with the stark reality of life in the Jim Crow South, with a side helping of showing how people are able to change - for better or worse - at all stages of life.”
— Sarah Rettger, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
"Powerful.... Johnson writes about the long shadows of the past with such ambition that any reader with a taste for mystery will appreciate the puzzle Candice and Brandon must solve." -- The New York Times Book Review
When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn't sure she should read it. It's addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle.
So with the help of Brandon, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert's history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter's promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?
About the Author
Spring 2018 Kids’ Indie Next List
A Junior Library Guild Spring 2018 selection
"Powerful.... Johnson writes about the long shadows of the past with such ambition that any reader with a taste for mystery will appreciate the puzzle Candice and Brandon must solve.... Their adventure is also a quest for dignity and justice and a journey to understand each other. In a novel marked by scenes of pain and rage, their friendship, genuine and sustaining, is a great achievement." -- The New York Times Book Review
* "Johnson's latest novel holds racism firmly in the light. Candice and Brandon discover the joys and terrors of the reality of being African-American in the 1950s. Without sugarcoating facts or dousing it in post-racial varnish, the narrative lets the children absorb and reflect on their shared history. The town of Lambert brims with intrigue, keeping readers entranced until the very last page. A candid and powerful reckoning of history." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Johnson's Westing Game–inspired tale is a tangled historical mystery, a satisfying multigenerational family story, and an exploration of twentieth-century (and contemporary) race and racism.... His protagonist is intelligent, endearing, and believable; scenes with her father, especially, have both humor and poignancy. Well-placed textual clues keep historical context and race relations at the front of readers' minds–and examining those constructs, ingeniously, provides the key to solving the mystery." -- The Horn Book, starred review
* "Part historical fiction, part critical problem-solving exercise, part suspenseful mystery, this story weaves through the past and present of one town's struggle with hatred and racism.... The characters are varied, authentic, and well developed. The plot moves along quickly and seamlessly between the past and present, with chapters from the 1950s shaded in light gray for a smart visual effect. The present day isn't sugarcoated, showing readers that racial equity is still an unresolved problem. Appended author notes offer additional context, making it an excellent link to social studies or history units. A must-purchase." -- School Library Journal, starred review
* "Johnson takes his readers on a whirlwind expedition with two exceptionally bright kids as they connect the dots of this mystery and gain insights into their own families’ secrets. The author flashes back to earlier eras to fill out the backstory of the town and the treasure, creating a vivid portrait of the cultural and demographic changes in a South Carolina town, and he creates a narrative that’s both a compelling mystery and a powerful commentary on identity, passing, and sacrifice. Fans of The Westing Game, which gets several textual shoutouts, and other puzzling mysteries such as Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer will appreciate the twists and turns of this meaningful tale." -- The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books, starred review
"A clever puzzle, a hidden treasure, and a couple of kids you'll wish were your friends...Dive in!" -- Sara Pennypacker, author of Pax
"Varian Johnson delivers once again with this rewarding mix of relevant history and challenging mystery!" -- Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hattie Big Sky
"With a nod to The Westing Game, Varian Johnson has penned a smart mystery that deftly explores the history of racial segregation in the South, modern-day discrimination, friendship, love and bullying…. beautifully written, this complex story will captivate an adult audience as well." -- Bookpage
"Realistic and complex." -- School Library Connection
"A dazzling and emotional read that deals with serious topics such as bullying, racism, and divorce." -- Booklist
"A gripping mystery." -- Publishers Weekly
"The Parker Inheritance is a clever puzzle wrapped in an urgent and compassionate novel that will capture readers from the first chapter." -- Shelf Awareness
"You guys aren’t prepared for this emotionally-true historical mystery that’ll keep you guessing the whole way through." -- YAYOMG!
"If you loved The Westing Game or the Mr. Lemoncello books, you will love The Parker Inheritance.” -- Prose and Kahn
"Love this book! It is the perfect combination of historical and contemporary with the connections between them clearly delineated." -- Sara Hines, Eight Cousins Bookshop
"Absorbing…weaves together a suspenseful, honest story." -- Angela Maria Spring, Duende District Bookstore
"What an amazing book! A first-rate mystery, The Parker Inheritance will keep kids guessing throughout the entire book….This is an excellent book for learning about the historical and present day effects of racial discrimination." -- Youth Services Book Review
"On top of the historical and current importance, there also was a great mystery that you are challenged to figure out which made the book even more enjoyable to read." -- Dad of Divas’ Reviews
"An excellent book." -- The Book Nut
"The Parker Inheritance is a remarkable and rich book, one that kept me reading late into the night, absorbed and captivated. It is a story of friendship and family, of race and racism, of past and present, with a tantalizing and puzzling mystery at its core. While it references most cleverly Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game, the book has a sensibility that is all its own. Fresh, original, timely, it is an outstanding read." -- Monica Edinger, Teacher at Dalton