Girls in the Stilt House
by Mustian, Kelly

Murder breaks through the racial divide that separates two teenage girls, forging an unlikely friendship. A first novel.

A year after 16-year-old Ada ran away from home, she must return to Mississippi, to the shabby stilt house and to her vile alcoholic father. In a fit of drunken rage, the man admits he murdered her mother and then makes to murder her, too. She is saved by a young Black woman, 17-year-old Matilda, who strikes the man in the head with a hammer, killing him. Readers then learn her story of the multiple heartbreaking deaths that have visited Matilda's Job-like life, and that one more-her own-may be in jeopardy, for she is the only one who knows the identity of another murderer. Homeless, Matilda moves into the stilt house with a pregnant Ada, who is a bit of a dim bulb, and they carve out a tentative life together until an unfriendly fate intervenes. Somewhere between Southern gothic and melodrama, this first novel, set in the early 1920s, is highly readable, although it requires some willing suspension of disbelief. Nevertheless, the story is redeemed by its period detail and richly realized setting. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

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