TITLE: The Zeal
GENRE: MG Historical Fiction
12-year-old Beryl O’Brien moves from North Carolina to South Boston during the busing desegregation crisis of 1974. She gets involved in the violence, but when the family secret of her being biracial is revealed, Beryl must negotiate being loyal to friends, her school, and an entire community or being true to herself.
September 12, 1974
I step in front of the line of shouting protestors and hurl the rock as hard as I can at the yellow school bus. Because I don’t have a dad to teach me to throw, and the only thing Mom and I have thrown are insults at the church ladies back in North Carolina, I expect the rock to miss my target and bounce on the street, the pavement chipping its sharp edges. But the rock has white stripes that go all the way around it, and Mom says that makes a rock as lucky as a four-leaf clover.
Bam! My lucky rock shatters a window on the bus. Police officers in the street look toward the crowd, but I’ve already slipped back between the rows of demonstrators.
A girl inside the bus puts her hands to her face. Fragments of sparkling glass in her puff of black hair catch the morning sun like a tiara of small diamonds. She opens her mouth in the shape of a scream and holds her hands to her face, then turns and looks down and disappears below the window.
The yelling drowns out any sounds from inside the bus. I didn’t hurt her. There’s an ambulance, nearby with its siren blaring, but it’s for someone else. Maybe I wouldn’t have cared if I did hurt her. They should all go back to their own junior high school, in their own neighborhood.