As social change sweeps across 1950s America, two boys—one white, one Black—discover the power of friendship and the importance of staying true to yourself
It’s the summer of 1959 at the foot of Bakers Mountain in western North Carolina when 13-year-old Jackie Honeycutt first bumps into Thomas Freeman fishing on the riverbank. They hit it off, and Jackie hopes the two of them can be friends. But Jackie is white, and Thomas is Black—and Jackie quickly learns their growing friendship won’t be easy.
Affected by the growing civil rights movement, Jackie is intent on being Thomas’s friend and, as a result, experiences racism and prejudice first-hand through bullying at school, family turmoil, and pressure from his community. Can Jackie free both his conscience and his voice—and ultimately do what's right?
A touching historical fiction tale about friendship and racial inequality, Equal is the fifth and final title in the popular Bakers Mountain Stories series.
About the Author
Joyce Moyer Hostetter is the author of historical novels, including Blue, winner of the International Reading Association Children's Book Award. She lives with her husband in Hickory, North Carolina, close to her two adult children and nine grandchildren. Visit her at joycemoyerhostetter.com.
Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year
★ "The 1950s...setting allows for the introduction of such topics as soldiers home from World War II and the Korean War coping with PTSD while working and raising families, the Cold War and fears of Russia attacking the U.S., and the resistance to the integration movement. This title can serve to help students understand these aspects of this period in U.S. history, as well as give some additional context to the world of their grandparents and great-grandparents. Given the recent conversations surrounding equality and the BLM demonstrations, this title could also serve to open the door to highly relevant class discussions on bullying, racism, and prejudice." —School Library Connection, starred review
"In 1959, a North Carolina teen is caught up in the social changes of the times. This depiction of racial struggles as seen through the lens of the White community has a dense narrative that is well crafted but takes a gentle tone about a time that is anything but gentle. The author’s note provides information about actual events, including the racial terminology used at the time. A look back at a complex era that continues to resonate in today’s world." —Kirkus Reviews
"Set in western North Carolina in 1959, the fifth book in the 'Bakers Mountain' series explores racial inequality... (a) comprehensive and engaging choice for historical fiction collections." —School Library Journal