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The Reformatory by Tananarive Due

Gloria and Robert Stephens, Jr., are walking to school together when the unthinkable happens: Robert, a young Black boy, kicks a teenaged White landowner in an attempt to defend his older sister's honor. It's 1950 in rural Florida and Jim Crow is the law of the land, so after a sham trial Robby is sentenced to six months in the Gracetown School for Boys, a reformatory with a reputation for such extreme brutality that it has its own graveyard for the boys who don't survive their sentences. The Reformatory's narrative alternates between Robby, who is able to see and communicate with the reformatory's resident haints, and Gloria as she desperately tries to free him. The result is a novel that is as brutal as it is brilliant, in which the traditional horror elements take a back seat to the horrors of the Jim Crow South setting when it comes to fright factor. Inspired by the true story of the death of author Tananarive Due's relative in a Florida reformatory, this is a bloody and deeply disturbing novel that, in Due's deft hands, still bursts with hope as she shines a light on one of the darker corners of our country's history.

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