Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome is an interesting look at the late 1940s, Chicago, growing up and literature that was way too short. I would have enjoyed more of the history of the time and seen a bigger connection to the two people called Langston.
Still, I enjoyed what I read but, like I said, there needed to be more: more of the history of the times (Why were the black families moving north? Why were the soldiers were coming back? Even the fact that the father has time off from work but still afraid of losing his job?), seeing the father decide to make the decision to leave Alabama and move north, and of course more about Langston’s mother and the family left behind (he did not seem to have a connection to his grandmother, but then BOOM! he does), more about the dynamic between his father and Langston (we do get a little bit, but they why behind the father’s actions to keep things from Langston, the why he seems not to be into Langston’s extra reading). And, on top of it, there were places that did not need to be there. (Slight spoiler): the next-door neighbor of Langston and his father is a nice-looking woman. Langston mentions how the men in the street will ogle here, but then Langston remarks his father is looking the same way at here. It would have been nice having the father showing a bit of respect towards the character.
The story, however, is relatable. Not only are we seeing Langston deal with the death of his mother (off “screen”), we see him dealing with the bullies of school (and then, how adults will bully his father similarly) and we see him finding the one thing that brings him comfort in a new, literally cold, city: finding the library and the freedom it gives him not just as a black person (a library that is for “coloreds” too) but as he is trying to find the words for his grief.
Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the book is that the language of the time is used. Words like colored and Negro to express the people of the community. Of course, it is all “family friendly” (there is not out and out racism but hinted at) even with the “country vs city” biases. I did like that a few historical events are mentioned (The Port Chicago Disaster) but not explained fully. That goes back to the “need more context/more about the history.
This is a good book but has a few bumps for me. Ages (strong) 8 to 13-14 might be the best audience.