An unflinching story about racism and culture clash in the 1960s.
The year is 1964, and Alice Ann Moxley's FBI-agent father has been reassigned from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi, to protect black people who are registering to vote. Alice finds herself thrust into the midst of the racial turmoil that dominates current events, especially when a Negro girl named Valerie Taylor joins her sixth-grade class -- the first of two black students at her new school because of a mandatory integration law.
When Alice finds it difficult to penetrate the clique of girls at school she calls the Cheerleaders (they call her Yankee Girl), she figures Valerie, being the other outsider, will be easier to make friends with. But Valerie isn't looking for friends. Rather, Valerie silently endures harassment from the Cheerleaders, much worse than what Alice is put through. Soon Alice realizes the only way to befriend the girls is to seem like a co-conspirator in their plans to make Valerie miserable.
It takes a horrible tragedy for her to realize the complete ramifications of following the crowd instead of her heart.