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Marty, on holiday in Georgia, learns difficult and unpalatable truths about the treatment of negroes when trying to maintain a friendship with a disfigured negro girl. Marty is kidnapped along with Ludie's brother whom she's seen being beaten - and all because white boys suspect him of being the object of Marty's affections. The viciousness of the attitudes and actions is powerfully detailed, but the historical setting of the story, in the America of the fifties, is only briefly suggested. Any book that has 'nigger' on its opening page may be difficult to sustain, despite working so hard to be on the side of the angels.