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The Parker Inheritance: 12/17/18
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson is a standalone middle grade mystery that spans three generations of a primarily black neighborhood in Lambert, South Carolina.
The book opens with Candice Miller and her recently divorced mother arriving at her grandmother's home. The grandmother, has recently died and they are here to clean out the house, fix it up, and sell it. It's a chance to get away from the pain of the divorce — a time for Mom to clear her head.
Then there's Brandon Jones, a young gay boy who adores reading but would prefer Candice check out books for him to avoid further teasing. He tends to like "girl" books and that just adds to the brutal teasing and bullying he faces on a daily basis, especially now that school is out for summer.
Together they discover a letter written to Candice's grandmother that is one part a tale of revenge against a once powerful local white business mogul and one part promise of a huge fortune to whomever can solve the riddle. The treasure is the source of the book's title and the riddle as well as the overall plot of the book draws inspiration from The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978).
Finally, I need to mention the book's design. Like Bull by David Elliott (2017), the book uses the paper and ink color to inform you of the timeline in the narrative. There are traditionally typeset pages, pages done on varying shades of gray paper, and finally inverse, where the page is black and the text is white.
I'm going to admit right here that my first attempt at reading Johnson's latest book was a complete and utter failure. The Parker Inheritance requires concentration and focus on details. It cannot be skimmed. It cannot be read while distracted. I am so glad I went back and tried a second time.