Middle Schooler Book Reviewer: Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

I just completed this delightful and engaging read by Ms. Stone. The fast paced story combines historical facts with contemporary characters dealing with current problems, some caused by past conflicts.

The story educates Scoob, an eleven-year-old boy, about the Green Book, a travel book used in the Jim Crow South to guide traveling people of color safely from town to town. The Green Book identified safe routes, cities, filling stations, hotels, and other amenities people of color could access while traveling. The main characters, G’ma, or Ruby Jean Lamar, is a seventy-six year-old grandmother running towards her past. She brings in tow her eleven-year-old grandson, Scoob, or William Lamar. The form of transportation is a sweet new RV. G’ma is an expert behind the wheel of her home on wheels as she navigates her grandson through her memories of a trip with Scoob’s long deceased and mysterious grandfather. G’ma shares her experiences of traveling through the south as a white women with her African American husband during a time when their marriage could be considered illegal in parts of the country. Surprisingly, the more Scoob learns about his G’ma and her somewhat sketchy past, the more mysterious she becomes. Could it be that this delightful and spunky grandmother had a somewhat shady past?

Ms. Stone creates quirky, believable, and kind characters, struggling with conflicts in the moment and in the past. The intertwining storylines of the present compared to the past make for an interesting comparison of where society was half a century ago and how that past reflects on today. G’ma shares her problems traveling as a white woman with a black man as Scoob feels the discomfort of racism as they make a pitstop at a roadside diner, a jewelry store, and experiences.

There are plenty of lessons to learn from this story: honesty versus dishonesty, conformity versus rebellion, generational racism, and the connections of a family extending from mother to son to son are discussed and discovered throughout this road trip to Mexico.

This is the third novel by Nic Stone. Her novel Dear Martin reached #1 on the New York Times Bestselling list.

Children may have questions or need background knowledge about the Jim Crow South and the Green Book. I do recommend the book with a 4/5. This book would be great for kids from the 4th to 9th grade.

Scoring:

  • Subject Matter: The subject matter is engaging and educational. However, background information may be required.

  • Plot: The plot develops quickly.

  • Characters: The characters are believable and develop empathy.

  • Conflicts: There are multiple conflicts that engage the reader.

  • Language and Vocabulary: The language is simple enough for an elementary student and the use of figurative, creative writing will engage more experienced readers.

Florida Possible Banned Book Level – High because it is written by a minority and discusses facts that may be uncomfortable for those who continue to favor racist beliefs or attitudes.

Independent Reading Level: 9 – meaning a 9th grader down should be able to read this book independently. This means the vocabulary, sentence structure, and subject matter should be easily comprehensible to students between 4th and 8th grade.

Lexile Level 780L