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Lunch-Box Dream


Lunch-Box Dream

Long after the Civil War ended, but before the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 became law, segregation was alive and well in the South. This story takes place in 1959, a time when the South had separate water fountains, entrance doors, service counters, bus seats, and schools for blacks (or "coloreds," as they were called). People with dark skin weren't permitted to mingle with the "white folk" in public.

When Bobby and his family take a trip south to Florida, they briefly encounter a black family whose young boy, Jacob, is missing. Bobby witnesses firsthand a bit of what African Americans have to deal with, as they aren't allowed to sit with the "white folks" on the bus. This is the story of two families who are still enslaved by racial inequalities.

But before they come into close proximity, Bobby is exposed to other signs of racial prejudice. His brother, Ricky, is a fan of the Civil War. On the trip to Florida, Ricky has his mother stop at some of the famous Civil War battlefields and monuments. She drives through some rather deserted countryside in search of an out-of-the-way house that is on the list of historic places. They take a wrong turn and end up on a dead-end road. She panics when she sees two black men come out of a run-down shack, thinking they're going to hurt her and her family. But they are only trying to help. Bobby is also afraid of them, though probably more so because of his mother's over-reaction than for any other reason. This incident sets the tone for the rest of the book --- that of fear and confusion on both sides of the racial spectrum.

Tony Abbott uses an interesting technique for the book's narration. Rather than having just one narrator, he uses multiple ones. The story is told from the points of view of Bobby, Jacob, Hershel, Louisa, Cora, Grandma, Frank, James and Ruth, with Bobby narrating the bulk of the tale. A list of characters and their relationship to each other is given at the beginning to avoid confusion. The title comes from Hershel's narration when he talks about riding in the "Jim Crow Car" of the train, carrying a meal that was packed in his lunchbox.

Abbott's writing style is fast, compelling and engaging, which you will discover upon reading LUNCH-BOX DREAM.

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on October 18, 2011

Lunch-Box Dream
by Tony Abbott

  • Publication Date: January 8, 2013
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • ISBN-10: 1250016681
  • ISBN-13: 9781250016683