Book Cover Image of Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon

Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground
by T.R. Simon

Publication Date: Sep 11, 2018
List Price: $16.99
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9780763643010
Imprint: Candlewick Press
Publisher: Walker Books
Parent Company: Walker Books

Hardcover Description:

“Beautifully written… The connection between slave times and Zora and Carrie’s world unravels slowly and with well-crafted suspense and a horrifying surprise twist.” —New York Times Book Review

  • Junior Library Guild Selection 2018
  • Kirkus Reviews — Starred Review
  • The Horn Book — Starred Review
  • Shelf Awareness — Starred Review
  • School Library Journal — Starred Review

A powerful fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood adventures explores the idea of collective memory and the lingering effects of slavery.

“History ain’t in a book, especially when it comes to folks like us. History is in the lives we lived and the stories we tell each other about those lives.”

When Zora Neale Hurston and her best friend, Carrie Brown, discover that the town mute can speak after all, they think they’ve uncovered a big secret. But Mr. Polk’s silence is just one piece of a larger puzzle that stretches back half a century to the tragic story of an enslaved girl named Lucia. As Zora’s curiosity leads a reluctant Carrie deeper into the mystery, the story unfolds through alternating narratives. Lucia’s struggle for freedom resonates through the years, threatening the future of America’s first incorporated black township — the hometown of author Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960). In a riveting coming-of-age tale, award-winning author T. R. Simon champions the strength of a people to stand up for justice.


A curse, the legacy of slavery, and a fight for justice collide in this fictionalized account of author Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood adventures, sequel to Simon’s Zora and Me, co-written with Victoria Bond (2010).

Twelve-year-old Zora Neale Hurston is as brave and adventurous as her best friend, Carrie Brown, is cautious. The year is 1903, and the girls live in Eatonville, Florida, the first incorporated all-black town in the U.S. Late one night, during an escapade, the girls discover their friend Mr. Polk injured outside his cabin. Mr. Polk is known to be mute, but to the girls’ surprise, he speaks—though not in English—to Old Lady Bronson, the town conjure woman, when she arrives to tend to his wounds. By night’s end, Zora has made a pact with the conjure woman, and she and Carrie find themselves embroiled in a half-century–old mystery involving an enslaved girl named Lucia. Through alternating chapters, narrated by Carrie in 1903 and Lucia in 1855, Lucia’s story and its connection to Zora and Carrie’s world come to light. Raw depictions of slavery and its aftermath provide important context as the Eatonville community’s resilience is tested in the face of injustice. The voices of Zora, Carrie, Lucia, and their families and friends make for powerful, unflinching storytelling, worthy to bear the name of a writer Alice Walker called a “genius” of African-American literature.

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