The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963
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The book is based in Flint, Michigan, with the narrator, Kenny, introducing his family in a cold house on the couch huddled up together, the "Weird Watsons'". His family includes his dad, his mom, older brother Byron, nicknamed By, and their younger sister Joetta, nicknamed Joey. This section is largely a description of the Watsons' family life: Byron kissing his reflection in a car mirror in January and freezing his lips to the chilled glass, Kenny's friend LJ stealing many of Kenny's toy dinosaurs, the countrified new kids at school, and Byron's sliding into friendship with the bad element in town. It is this last episode that prompts the main conflict in the story, as Byron's behavior worsens. Ultimately he is caught again playing with matches despite having been warned repeatedly against doing just this.
At this point, the family decides Byron should live with his Grandma Sands in Alabama for the Summer and if things don't work out he'll stay there for the next school year. It is, however, when the grandmother's church is bombed that the family decides to return home, with Byron, in an attempt to avoid explaining the full implications of what has happened to the children.
Kenny, having never encountered racism of this magnitude before, is unable to process what has happened—he ran to the church moments after the bombing took place as he believed his sister to be in the building, and saw the aftermath. As a result of the bomb, four little girls had died, one was blinded, and one had to have one of her eyes removed. Byron does his best to help Kenny understand what has happened, as the parents are reluctant to explain. Kenny sees that though the world is not perfect, he has to keep pushing on.