HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Best Friends: The Great Depression, 1929-1931
Author: Sandy Andrews
Cover Designer: Sara Schapker
Publisher: Cordon Publications, 2012
Related website: http://www.cordonpublications.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 13 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Andrews, Sandy. Best Friends: The Great Depression, 1929-1931 (published in 2012 by Cordon Publications, 731-C Erie Ave., Evansville, IN 47715). It is 1929 and Anna Young lives with her parents, Dale and Stoney, and older brother Justin on a farm in the area of New Harmony and Mt. Vernon, IN, not far from Evansville. An older half-brother, Denny, lives with his wife Rosie and their twin three year old daughters April and May in Mt. Vernon where he manages a store. Anna’s best friend Tess Brown, who is fond of Justin, lives nearby with her parents, Jefferson and Chastity, and brother Wayne who is sweet on Anna. Justin’s best friend is Tucker Knight who also lives close with his mother Grace, grandmother Abby, sister Peggy, and brother Paul. Other friends include Avery and John Thomas Bates and their parents William and Ruth. The Knight and Bates families are Afro-American.
The Great Depression has set in, but these young people find ways of having fun together and helping each other during a time when money is scarce. Then, when he graduates from high school, Justin has a surprise announcement. What has he decided that he is going to do? And how will his family and friends react? In two previous “Best Friends” books, readers are introduced to Rae Edgewood, Beth Taylor, Zane Brown, Dawn Jefferson, Night Hawk, and J. B. Bates, along with their families and friends just before and during the Civil War. The characters in this third book are their descendants. There are a few common euphemisms (gee, heck), several references to dancing and mixed swimming, and mention of Anna and Wayne’s “first real kiss,” but everything is fairly innocent, and the story is generally wholesome. The book basically covers the years 1929-1931 (although the cover says 1929-1933).
I especially like the good way that loving and caring families are presented, not only the immediate family but also inter-generational relationships and even respect for ancestors. Also, the author does an excellent job of tackling the problem of racial prejudice. Furthermore, these folks all believe in God, look for His influence in their lives, and unashamedly ask His guidance in prayer. The biggest complaint that I have is that like its predecessors, the book could have used better editing to avoid such typographical errors as “saying a pray of thanks…noticed how quite he had been all day…he was unconscious and barley breathing,” and such like. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a great story to teach young adults a bit of history about what life was like during the Great Depression.