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How High the Moon

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  695 ratings  ·  123 reviews
To Kill a Mockingbird meets One Crazy Summer in this powerful, bittersweet debut about one girl's journey to reconnect with her mother and learn the truth about her father in the tumultuous times of the Jim Crow South.

"Timely, captivating, and lovely. So glad this book is in the world." --Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming

In the small town of Alcolu, Sou
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  695 ratings  ·  123 reviews

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Brooke — brooklynnnnereads
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
For a shorter novel, I was surprised that it took me so long to read this book from start to finish (about nine days). It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it either because I did which you can clearly see from the rating. However, it was a very important story that had some difficult content to read. It was a surprisingly heavy story.

What really breaks my heart is thinking about how some of these events would be the reality for some people in the past and it breaks my heart even more to think that it'
Robin Stevens
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully-written story about a black family growing up in segregated South Carolina in the 1940s. They're swept up in a terrible murder case, but that's not really the heart of the book - it's all about hope, love and finding your place in the world. (8+)

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. If you use it in any marketing material, online or anywhere on a published book without asking permission from me first, I will ask you to remove that use immediately. Thank you!*
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a story of a family and self discovery, but it is also the story of three young people who grow up and remember. In the 1950s and 1960s, they would find their voices and demand the common decency that should be the right of all people, their civil rights, to be treated as equals.

I enjoyed this! I like the southern jazz feel and the message that Parsons was trying to convey. For a debut I thought the writing was really good.

“But what some folks want you to be and what you is...well,
Mary Lee
1940's/50's Jim Crow South contrasted with Boston. Mixed race identity (unknown white father), hinted-at-but-not-addressed lesbian mother, lynching, and the framing and execution of 14 year-old George Stinney (the only historical figure in the book as a character). That part of the book was especially hard to read after watching "When They See Us." Nothing has changed. Nothing.
Abby Johnson
It's 1943 and Ella has finally been invited to go stay with her mama in Boston. Raised by her grandparents in South Carolina, Ella has always dreamed of the day when her mama would send for her. Leaving her small Southern town means leaving her best friend and cousin Henry, but Ella knows this is her chance to get to know her mother better and maybe to get answers to her many questions about the father she's never met. Boston is a completely different world where everyone's in a hurry, all you c ...more
Dawn Foster
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather Moore
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, 2019
Enjoyable story with a likable character, but it felt like two different arcs were competing with one another rather than telling one cohesive story. I enjoyed the audiobook narrator and the authors note at the end is not to be missed.
Jennifer Mangler
There is a LOT going on in this book. I think the story would have been better served if it had a bit more focus and pruning. Ella and George each deserved their own book, and George's story was not well served by cramming it in.
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I decided that I needed to read more "own voices" stories this year, which is the reason I picked up Karyn Parsons' "How High the Moon." Her coming of age story gives us a look at the Jim Crow era from the perspective of 11-year-old Ella.

Ella lives in South Carolina with her grandparents and cousins. When her mother sends for her to come to Boston, where she works in the Naval Shipyards and sings in jazz clubs by night, Ella is thrilled. She hopes to learn more about her absent father, and also
A story told in three narratives, the three children in the story. I thought all three perspectives added to the story. Each were human with their own frailties and strengths, they felt real. The weaving of the true story into the book worked well, it never felt forced. The growth of the characters over the year that the story takes place was well paced and believable. The events that take place, though difficult, I don't think are out of the purview or too mature for middle grade readers.

Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the book How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons. Especially during a time like this I think it is a good way to educate or spark interest on the issues of systemic racism and life in the US. It is also a very good book for all ages to read even though it is an easy read. Some may find it more suitable for younger viewers. I believe it is important to sometimes put ourselves in a young person's shoes once again and see their perspective, especially in a time like the 1940s and the op ...more
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Terrific historical fiction novel about Ella, a young mixed race girl, growing up in South Carolina in 1943. Ella's mother resides in Boston where she is pursuing her dream of making it big in the music industry. For a brief period of time Ella joins her mother where she hopes to uncover clues about her father's identity. Upon returning to the south she is aghast to learn of the arrest of a fourteen-year-old neighbor boy charged with the murder of two white girls.
With shades of To Kill a Mockin
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with this book story-wise in my opinion, I just didn’t connect with it. I wasn’t very invested and didn’t really find myself interested in the characters. The writing was ok, but not really my style. This book might be great for someone else, but it just wasn’t for me. However, the premise was interesting and I liked the idea of a story taking place in the 1910s-1920s, and the unique situation of the main character!
Tamara York
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read for my middle grade book club. This book takes place in segregated, Jim Crow South Carolina in the 1940’s. The characters felt like real people and were very well written. I was shocked and saddened to find that George was, in fact, a real person and his story really happened. The book takes some twists and turns that felt a bit disconnected. There were some intense moments that make this book best suited for older elementary age and up.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every chapter broke my heart and then healed it stronger than it was before. Beautiful.
Lindy MacLaine
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A treat.
Kathy Mathey
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Compelling story told with warmth, love, and empathy ~ these characters are unforgettable.
Liz Derouet
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blog-review
A touching read about life in South Carolina in the 1940s for young Ella.
Review on my blog soon.
Available to read in the SEC at Harcourt Hill Library now! :)
Kathy Allard
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lovely, sweet and sad story with vivid audiobook narration.
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a sweet, heart-warming book that shows the importance of family (both blood relatives and choosen family). I loved the characters and the ending of this YA novel.
Sara (lyrical.reads)
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
[ 4🌟 ]

There’s nothing like reading books that you absolutely love one after another.

I’m hoping to get a full review of this one written, but I highly recommend this historical middle grade!!
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: his-fic
Just an OK book for me. I think I'm just slightly too old for it.
Llyr Heller-Humphreys
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and heart-wrenching. Highly recommend.
I loved this story. It was a great look into a post that we need to learn from so we can do better today. The main character was feisty and passionate and full of young girl emotions that were very real and relatable.
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of those books you’re sorry to see come to an end. Beautiful. Have Kleenex close.
J.L. Slipak
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

This is a complicated middle-grade book.

So I’m a huge, huge fan of books like, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “The Help,” “The Butler,” etc. Love stories where injustices are overcome by strength of character, bravery and the need to do what is right.

History is full of horrific injustices against, women, African Americans, immigrant white children, Chinese, I can go on and on and on. So when a beautiful eye-opening book comes along that
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I found it slow to get into, possibly because the POV keeps changing between three characters. Once it settled down to just Ella's voice it was easier to get a grip on and cross the big gulf between my experience and the characters'.
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We read this book as our first "Teacher Book Club" book. It led to so much great discussion about topics that are current and that we, as teachers, are learning how to best address in the classroom. I looked at it as 3 tiers: would I have this on my classroom shelf for students to self-select, would I read it aloud, would I use it as a small group teaching text. As I have been a second grade teacher for many years, this book would not be used in a grade 2 classroom, BUT I am moving to fourth gra ...more
Gr - 4-6
12 yo Ella lives in 1944 segregated South Carolina, fishing, going to school and dreaming of living with her glamorous, jazz singing mother in Boston. When she finally receives the invitation to live with her mother, she’s awed by the fact that Boston isn’t segregated, like her southern home. No one comments on her light skin or tells her what fountain to drink out of. Her mother looks people in the eyes and is called m’am. All is not perfect though, as Ella tries to navigate through bor
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