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When I Crossed No-Bob
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When I Crossed No-Bob

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  279 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Life as an O’Donnell is all twelve-year-old Addy knows, and life as an O’Donnell means trouble.
Tucked away in a gray patch of woods called No-Bob, the O’Donnell clan has nothing but a bad reputation. So when Addy’s mama abandons her on the afternoon of Mr. Frank Russell’s wedding celebration, nobody is very surprised. A reluctant Mr. Frank and his new wife take Addy in, an
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published December 17th 2007 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published December 2007)
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Canadian Reader
Twelve-Year-Old Addy O’Donnell feels a mixture of pride and shame about being a member of “the meanest family on God’s green earth”. Hers has been a rough, hardscrabble existence on a tract of land belonging the lawless, violent O’Donnell clan of Smith County, Mississippi. Addy’s home territory is commonly known as “No-Bob”— so named after a freed black man made a fatal navigational error: he stepped onto O’Donnell land and never stepped off. A search party was sent to comb the O’Donnell woods f ...more
"When I Crossed No-Bob", by Margaret McMullan, is an extremely compelling read, direct and honest, historical and geographically significant. Set in Raleigh, Mississippi in 1875, it weaves together stories of many people: sympathetic white Anglos; proud Choctow Indians; poor, miscreant white folk involved in the KKK, colored folk finding their way post-emancipation. The protagonist is a poor, uneducated 12 year-old girl, Abby O'Donnell, abandoned by her parents after growing up in No-Bob, the wo ...more
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great little book, she is coming to my local university this month. The story starts out with good character development and then about half way in it explodes with mayhem and violence. Very well done. I enjoyed this fascinating fast read and wonderfully real characters.
12 year old Addy is the youngest member of the locally deplored and infamous O’Donnell clan, a matter for both pride and shame. When she is finally abandoned by her mother, in the wake of her father’s leaving, Addy is taken in by the local schoolteacher. She struggles with feelings of loss and confusion at her torn loyalties, as the KKK not only gains a foothold in the area, but proves to have an uncomfortable tie to Addy’s own home life. McMullan allows Addy to narrate events and feelings in a ...more
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan is a young adult historical fiction book. This is a story about how 12 year old Addy O’Donnell lives her life in Mississippi 10 years after the Civil War. Her family is known for being the worst family in town. The O’Donnells are poor, racist, and uneducated. Once both of her parents abandon her, a nice newlywed couple take her in and raises her as their own. Frank and Irene, the newlyweds, are the opposite of the O’Donnells. Addy becomes very reflecti ...more
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, juvenile
Addy is from the wrong side of the tracks--or in this case, the wrong side of the stream. The O'Donnells have always lived in No Bob, and they have lived up to their reputation for fighting, drinking, disorderly conduct, and thieving. Mostly amongst themselves, but certainly not limited to their own.

When Addy's mom abandons her at the schoolteacher's wedding, probably the last thing she expects is for the new couple to take her in. But they do. Addy is determined to prove to them that she can b
Amy Brown
Jan 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautifully written but it is a hard one to read because of the experiences that the main character goes through. Addy is from the O'Donnell family, a huge rowdy violent family that is known for getting in trouble. Her father has run away to Texas and one day her mother leaves her as well. She ends up living with a teacher Mr. Frank and his new wife. I don't think the book says what year this takes place in but it occurs after the Civil War with the Ku Klux Klan starts to appear. Ad ...more
Apr 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-school
Set ten years after the Civil War in Klan-tortured, reconstruction Mississippi, this novel begins the day twelve-year-old Addy's momma abandons her at the local school teacher's wedding. This is no surprise to anyone, least of all Addy. She's the youngest in a family of black sheeps, the O'Donnells, dangerous clan of the nearby backwater, No-Bob, a place so-named for a man who went in and never came out. But like losing her violent daddy, losing her momma turns out to be a stroke of luck. Smart, ...more
Jul 06, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is about Addy O'Donnell, a young girl who lives in Mississippi in 1875, during the Reconstruction after the Civil War. Addy's father has gone to Texas and her mother abandons her to go after him. Addy is taken in by Mr. Frank and Miss Irene, two newlyweds. Although Addy is an O'Donnell and they bring nothing but trouble, she tries to do good and help out. She is happy living with Mr. Frank and Miss Irene, until she witnesses a horrible event and then her father comes back to claim her. ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it liked it
There were some sweet moments and some pretty tough things to take in this story of Addy's journey. The subject matter has to do with the Ku Klux Klan and is set shortly after the Civil War. Times were tough and the people were tougher, especially the O'Donnell's. Addy has a hard time figuring her place among them. Her values are right on target but family pride occasionally mixes her up.

After Addy's stay with Mr. Frank and Miss Irene, she learns a lot more about herself and the world around her
Ms. B
Life is tough in 1875 in Mississippi for Addy O'Donnell. Her parents have deserted her; what she remembers of her O'Donnell family is meanness. Not only her parents, but all her extended family; uncles, aunts and cousins. Mr. Frank and his new wife Miss Irene take her in. Maybe thing will get better. She makes friends with Little Bit and Jess Still, a black boy. Then she and Little Bit witness the intentional burning of a cross that falls on Jess Still's church during a service. The culprits are ...more
Aug 15, 2008 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars, really. Addy, abandoned by both parents and stuck with her family's inescapable reputation (no-goods who live back in the woods and make trouble), works to make good when she is taken in by her teacher and his new wife, and comes face-to-face with the evils of the KKK, post-Civil War conflict, and the life choices that are only sometimes hers to make. I really did like this book and I almost gave it four stars. I appreciated Addy's no-nonsense telling and the inner conflicts she fac ...more
Judi Paradis
Dec 19, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is set in the South just after the Civil War, when everyone is poor and struggling. Addy's family is poor and rough, and she's been raised by parents who are not nice people. After her mother abandons her, Addy sees that there are good people who are trying to do the right thing in her town, and has the chance to have a better life--but only by turning her back on everything she knows. This story is remarkably well-written, but has lots of difficult situations in it. It would be a good ...more
Miss Amanda
gr 4-8 203pgs

1875 Mississippi. After her mother abandons her to go in search of Abby's father, 12 year old Abby is taken in Frank Russell, a school teacher, and his wife. Unlike most of the townfolk who think that Abby O'Donnell, just like all the other O'Donnells from No-Bob, is nothing but trouble, the Russells see that Abby is a hard worker and eager to learn. When the KKK attack an African American church, Abby recognizes some of the klansmen. Abby must decide whether she should turn them in
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Maybe I was too sleepy or tired when I attempted reading this story but I really couldn't keep my mind on it. I can see that the author has a great voice and that I really really like Addy O'Donnell, the main character, and the story has so many hard-hitting issues, dealing with the Klan and prejudices of many kinds. And yet... it seems fragmented and full of adult sensibilities, delivered as sermons, preaching to the readers. Am I too harsh? ...more
Dec 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-school
This is a well written and heart wrenching tale set in the south just after the Civil War. Issues of poverty,loss,loneliness, fear,ignorance, racial hatred, friendship, and belonging (sorry, it is all in there) are
described through the eyes of a strong and sensitive young woman. Much to discuss here. It is a book adults and award committees will love, but a harder sell I think to young readers themselves. Because of the harsh issues, I think it needs to be 6th grade and up.
Feb 26, 2008 rated it liked it
I liked the book. It is well written and you become interested in the character's life. I found the messages and moral battles that were expressed by the main character didn't match her age. She is young, but had all these adult-type moral moments and such which I thought were more likely to come out of an older person.
I found this book in the children's area of the library so I can see how the author wanted to get these messages out to adolescent readers.
Mar 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Sequal to How I Found the Strong, Frank Russell is grown up with a new wife when Addy O'Donnell is left by her mother at his wedding. Addy is an O'Donnell, a family with ties to the KKK. This is Addy's story and she learns how good it feels to do right versus doing wrong. She learns what true love really is with Mr. Frank and his wife Mrs. Irene. Beautifully written, like How I Found the Strong, and perfect for a Civil War Unit. ...more
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
***kids book. An excellent read! I thought the setting would be the dust bowl era. I was wrong. It was right after the Civil War. It gives a good back ground as to how people felt after the war. It has sadness and joy in little ways. Life was hard back then, almost impossible--the lack of food, communication, resources, etc. The main character learns a lot about herself. Even though her parents were good for nothings, she doesn't have to be. ...more
Sarah Tilatitsky
Oct 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
This historical fiction book is really sad, yet so good to read. No, really. I feel sad that Abby had to turn in her father, but he was dangerous, and he killed her friend, only because he was black. That is pretty much the Klu-Klux-Klan really hate, non-whites and non-Christians. This book shows a character that will help to do right, no matter waht predicament she is in. In other words, please read this book.
Jamie Leeper
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was really good! The time was back in about 1875 and the book described that time period well.I felt sorry for 12 year old Addy O'Donnell and all she had been through. I was glad though, that the author made Addy a strong willed girl who proved she was not like the rest of her "bad" O'Donnell family. Some books, keep you thinking about them, even once you finished the book. I will remember Addy for a long time! ...more
Feb 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
The turbulence of prejudice and poverty in post-civil war Missisippi, told from the perspective of a poor girl from a notrious family clan of thieves and ruffians. Although gut-wrenching at times, exposing the nasty side of human nature--Addie's story is very compelling and I found it hard to put down.
For middle school and high school (and adult fans of young adult lit.)
Feb 20, 2008 rated it liked it
A girl comes of age in post civil war Mississippi. It’s realistic, historical fiction, for 5-9 grade. Advanced readers and teachers would like it. It’s good for a serious book club or reading aloud in the classroom. There is some violence. It’s perfect for a class project on historical / realistic fiction. The cover art is bad, though. I can’t see teens picking this up for a fun read.
Aug 25, 2008 rated it liked it
After rave reviews from everyone in book club, I finally read 'No-Bob.' It's the story of a 12yo girl named Addy, living in rural, reconstruction-era Mississippi. When her mom takes off, she goes to live with the local schoolteacher and his new wife and experiences kindness for the first time. Really well-written and interesting. But I didn't love it. ...more
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tween
12 yr old Addy is an O'Donnell and that means trouble. Addy is left alone when her mother runs off. The newlyweds Frank and Irene take in Addy and she goes to school, makes a good friend, and finds out about life beyond the O'Donnell's which she likes. This book takes place in Mississippi during the early 1900's. Great ...more
Stephanie Ferron
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really liked the handling of tough issues in this Reconstruction Era book including freed slaves, the KKK, poverty, and rebuilding the South after the Civil War. I really liked that there were no easy and simple answers for Addy. I think my favorite part was to read the author's note at the end of the book on how she came up with the story- brilliant! ...more
Feb 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-grandkids, 2015
Addy is a tough little scrapper abandoned by her parents in Mississippi after the civil war. She thinks she is born bad but she tries to do good and she does, mostly. I loved parts of the book and other parts left me cold. Don't ask me why, but I thought it was non-fiction and my granddaughter likes books about real things. It's fiction through and through. Terrific cover. ...more
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Addy, our heroine, is a scrappy little outsider, intelligent enough to recognize injustice, human enough to be belivable and courageous enough to deliver that happy ending.
A good, quick book, probably better for older kids and adults, there are two disturbing, violent episodes that I wouldn't want my kids to endure at this point.
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The second book that follows a family. The reader becomes endeared with Addy and the family who comes to love and accept her as part of their own. Set after the Civil War, Addy must come to grips with the fact that she was born in a seriously dysfunctional family. I found myself quickly becoming her cheerleader and hoping that she would rise above the status of her worthless family members.
Oct 20, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a story of survival during the Reconstruction era in Mississippi. Young Addy O'Donnell is abandoned by her parents and has to make her own way. She is hindered by a disreputable family name and is judged accordingly. How she learns to survive and become a strong young woman is challenging and inspiring. ...more
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Margaret McMullan was born in 1960 in Newton County, Mississippi. At the age of ten, her family moved to Chicago, Illinois.

McMullan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from Grinnell College and an M.F.A. in Fiction from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

For twenty-five years, she lived in Evansville, Indiana, where she taught and served as the Chair of the English Department at

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