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Mockingbird Summer: Book summary and reviews of Mockingbird Summer by Lynda Rutledge

Mockingbird Summer

A Novel

by Lynda Rutledge

Mockingbird Summer by Lynda Rutledge X
Mockingbird Summer by Lynda Rutledge
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About this book

Book Summary

A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set amid the turmoil and profound changes of the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

In segregated High Cotton, Texas, in 1964, the racial divide is as clear as the railroad tracks running through town. It's also where two girls are going to shake things up.

This is the last summer of thirteen-year-old Corky Corcoran's childhood, and her family hires a Haitian housekeeper who brings her daughter, America, along with her. Corky is quick to befriend America and eager to share her favorite new "grown-up" novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. America's take on it is different and profoundly personal. As their friendship grows, Corky finds out so much more about America's life and her hidden skill: she can run as fast as Olympian Wilma Rudolph!

When Corky asks America to play with her girls' softball team for the annual church rivals game, it's a move that crosses the color line and sets off a firestorm. As tensions escalate, it fast becomes a season of big changes in High Cotton. For Corky, those changes will last a lifetime.

Set on the eve of massive cultural shifts, Mockingbird Summer explores the impact of great books, the burden of potential, and the power of friendship with humor, poignancy, and exhilarating hope.

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Which parts of the story could only have taken place in the 1960s, and which sections are more universally true of childhood, in your opinion? Are there things or actions mentioned in the book that no longer exist or have changed significantly over time? If you grew up in the 1960s, which sections of the novel reminded you of your own childhood?
  2. Corky is told by her father that she can be anything she wants, while also overhearing him refuse permission to her mother to get a part-time job. How do you feel this affects Corky? Do you believe the mixed messages have any impact on the person she becomes by the end of the book?  
  3. Corky's mother tells her that as an adult, "you've got to have people like you to do ...

You can see the full discussion here. This discussion will contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about Mockingbird Summer:

"A book, like music, is very personal. You bring yourself, your own story, to everything you read." In what ways is this reflected in Mockingbird Summer? Have you found it to be true in your own reading?
Books are so personal that I'm reluctant to recommend a specific book to a specific person unless I know them and their reading tastes very well. A Facebook friend (so someone I don't know terribly well) asked for a historical ... - kimk

"In big times of change, normal is what is being changed." Do you think this is true? What "normal" changes over the course of the book? What "normal" has changed in your own lifetime?
I believe that "NORMAL" is different for every person. Everyone looks out of different windows. So, even if you see something today that appears normal to you, you may see it differently tomorrow. What once was is now changed. Normal ... - christine

"While a journalist's job is to tell what is true, a novelist's job is to tell what is truth." What's your interpretation of this statement? Do you agree with it?
Neither part of that statement has a basis in fact. There are many journalists who write opinion into the facts of a news story, calling it analysis of the news. There are also novelists who do not tell the truth when writing their novels. Some novel... - BJHB

A number of people work to help America succeed. Why do you suppose each is so intent on doing so? Do you think they were right or wrong to encourage her so strongly?
America’s talent and humble personality made it easy for others to help and encourage her. The coach saw her potential which could secure a scholarship and thus achieve a successful future. - colleena

At several places in the book it's mentioned that young people are the ones pushing for change, and we've seen that today as well. Why do you suppose that is?
Young people are pushing for change to live as they want with cleaner air etc, they are innovative and are energetic. - dorothyh

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Media Reviews

Media reviews not yet available.

This information about Mockingbird Summer was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own reviewwrite your own review


A heartwarming historical coming-of-age story
Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for a digital advance reader's copy. All comments and opinions are my own.

I loved this! Deserves more than 5 stars! A heartwarming, historical, coming-of-age story that takes place during a time of massive cultural upheaval, this remarkable novel explores the power of friendship, hope, and progress.

The novel begins with this paragraph, “In 1964, a small miracle of a summer happened in Kate “Corky” Corcoran’s tiny, segregated town because of a softball game, a pastor feud, a drugstore sit-in, and a girl named America who Corky saw run as fast as Olympic champion Wilma Rudolph, the fastest woman in the world.”

After reading that sentence, I couldn’t put this book down. It’s well-written, with realistic characters, authentic dialogue, and edge-of-your-seat plotting. The book smoothly shifts from various characters’ points of view, including a dog, as well as an omniscient narrator. The suspenseful foreshadowing kept me turning the pages in anticipation. Talented author Lynda Rutledge (“West With Giraffes”) creatively takes the larger 1964 issues of racism and the Civil Rights Movement, women’s rights, the Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy assassination, Viet Nam war, Martin Luther King Jr., and makes them personal by telling the story from the perspective of naïve 13-year-old Corky.

Rutledge explains how “The moral of this novel, if it has one, is about the absolute miracle of friendship and also about the miraculous ability that books and sports possess to draw those new worlds together.” Of course the book she is referring to is “To Kill A Mockingbird” and the sport is girls’ softball. If you want to read similar heartwarming 5-star coming-of-age novels of small-town drama mixed with poignant humor after finishing this one, I highly recommend “The All-American” by Susie Finkbeiner, “The Incredible Winston Browne” and “Kinfolk,” both by Sean Dietrich.

This would be great for book clubs and is one I’ll be telling everyone to read. Don’t miss this feel-good novel!

Jan Hubbard

Great book
I loved this book. It is a great story about a baseball-playing brother and his sister, and their discovery of a gifted runner in their midsts. A potential great addition to their team but for the fact that she goes to a different church, lives in a different part of town, and is of a different race . . . . all this in the Deep South, during the early 60's. The author develops the story through her teenage characters. She makes it easy for the reader to remember their own teenage years, and how we slowly discovered truths that seemed to us to be totally wrong.

I loved this book, and didn't want to put it down. At 286 pages, it is a fast read, and ends well. I recommend it for personal reading as well as book club discussions.


A wonderful book
This is one of those books that I couldn't put down. One of the best things about this book was that it was told through the voice of a young girl who lives in a small town.
The frustration of the mother who wanted to have a job, the older brother and his issues, and the two young girls, one a naive white girl and a girl from Haiti, and how their lives interact.

It was an accurate description of life in a small southern town. I want to ask the author, what happened to America when she left? What is her story into adulthood? This book will be on the list of my book group to read and discuss. I would give it a "must-read."


gooo book
I like this book very much.


the better coming of tale
I haven't read a better coming-of-age tale in a long time than this one! It centers on the tomboyish Corky and her brother Mack as they navigate their adolescent years in the 1960s amid racial tensions. forming their own connections and friendships.
The small Texas town came to life in every little detail, and the story and scene setting were superb throughout the entire novel. The writing in this book was so exquisite that I found it impossible to put it down.

I am grateful to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for providing a digital advance reader's copy. All thoughts and remarks are all fantastic.

This was fantastic! This amazing book examines the strength of friendship, optimism, and progress in a historical coming-of-age tale set amid a period of intense cultural upheaval.

Barbara B

A Bit Too Much About Corky
Mockingbird Summer is a Civil Rights and Women’s Rights novel set in Texas, 1964. Star of the book is a thirteen-year-old girl named Kathryn Corcoran, also known as Katie or Corky. She becomes friends with America Willcox, the teenage daughter of Corky’s family housekeeper. Corky’s mother wants to take a part-time job in the local library against the wishes of her husband. Corky wants America to become a member of her softball team against the wishes of many residents in their fictional segregated town, High Cotton, Texas.

I particularly enjoyed the concept of drug store sit-ins that occurred in the story, because I learned very little about them in my high school History classes. I especially disliked the over abundance of Corky’s thoughts throughout the book. The other characters were important to the story, both good and bad, but their thoughts were minor compared to Corky’s. I would recommend this novel for young adult readers, mainly high school age, and it could make a debatable choice for book clubs.

...2 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Lynda Rutledge Author Biography

Before she became a novelist, Lynda was a professional writer for over 25 years, working as a copywriter, restaurant and film reviewer, book collaborator, nonfiction author, travel writer, and freelance journalist. She petted baby rhinos, snorkeled with endangered sea turtles, hang-glided off a small Swiss mountain, and dodged hurricanes to write articles for national and international publications, such as the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Poets & Writers, Houston Post, San Diego Union-Tribune and many more, her travel photographs often appearing with her work. She's also crafted book-length nonfiction for famous organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the San Diego Zoo Global (for which she's shown below doing an interview with one of her favorite animals that inspired...

... Full Biography
Link to Lynda Rutledge's Website

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Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

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