The Mighty Miss Malone

the-mighty-miss-malone

The Mighty Miss Malone

by Christopher Paul Curtis

Age: 9+

Interests: strong female characters, history, American history, poverty, racism, Depression/1930s

Random House, 2012

297 pages

Also by this author: Bud, Not Buddy; The Watsons go to Birmingham – 1963

Twelve-year-old Deza Malone is a gifted student with an immense love of books and words. At the beginning of this novel she is singled out by her teacher for extra tutoring and her future looks bright. Unfortunately, however, hard times and family misfortune derail her plans. Her father suffers a serious injury, then leaves home on a desperate search for work. Not long after this her mother loses her job as well, and they lose their home. Deza, her mother, and her brother Jimmy ride the rails to Flint, Michigan, where they settle into a homeless camp and try to locate Mr. Malone. After further troubles – a police raid on the homeless camp, and Jimmy’s departure to seek his fortune –  the ailing Mr. Malone is finally located and the family moves into a new home and a hopefully a new beginning.

Deza herself narrates her story with great humour and personality. Her family’s fortunes fall about as low as they possibly can, yet the Malones manage to keep their dignity and hope alive.  Along the way are great period details, like the boxing match between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, and how much hung on that contest. Some episodes may be disturbing for sensitive readers – particularly the description of Mr. Malone’s injuries and his deteriorating mental health – but the family’s spirit and humour is inspiring throughout. In fact, the Malone family is about as good a model for family love and loyalty as you’ll find in a novel. Deza matures from a rather melodramatic child (bursting into tears when she doesn’t get top marks in her class) to a tougher, resilient young lady, while still retaining her whimsical outlook on life.

This is a thoughtful, enthralling book about poverty and racism in 1930s America. The prevailing message is that people are basically good and a loving family can survive any hardship.

The character of Deza Malone makes a brief appearance in Curtis’ previous novel Bud, Not Buddy, so that would be a good book to read next.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Melissa
    May 15, 2017 @ 21:32:43

    can you , make a flow chart about the mighty miss malone please?

    Reply

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.