Reviewed by Grandma Bev for TeensReadToo.com
It's 1966 and there is still a lot of racial tension and discrimination in this small Florida town. The Vietnam war is in high gear, and Dewey Turner has many personal issues to deal with.
Dewey desperately wants to be the "Shoeshine Boy" in next year's minstrel show at school, but dying his face with black shoe polish turns out to be the wrong thing to do because it won't wash off. The kids start calling him Sambo, and then the bullies won't let him use the bathroom that they have labeled "Whites Only," and continue to do so long after the shoe polish wears off.
He is ostracized by his classmates, picked on by bullies, and his father deals out discipline with his belt.
Dewey's brother, Wayne, is the only person willing to talk to him besides another outsider, Darla Turkel. Darla is a bouncy, Shirley Temple look-alike who befriends Dewey.
His problems escalate when his dad sends him and Wayne into Boogerbottom, the black section of town, to deliver campaign posters - and they run into more trouble than they can handle.
DOWN SAND MOUNTAIN is an authentic look back in history, and a riveting chronicle of the emotional issues of being a teenager. It does introduce some sexual complications in a couple of scenes that I thought should have been omitted - the story is great without those problems.
Overall, though, this is a fast-paced story filled with the emotional roller-coaster of teen angst. The characters are realistic and compelling. It is a complex story that is by turns funny, sad, lonely, and sometimes frightening, but one thing is for sure: it will stay with you long after the last page is finished.