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Deed So, a coming of age story, takes place in a small Southern town in 1962. It was the last year of innocence — the year before the Kennedy assassination, the civil rights struggle, feminist activism and the Vietnam War changed America forever.
Brainy twelve-year-old Agnes Hayden Bashford (Haddie) wants nothing more than to leave Wicomico Corners and escape to the exciting world beyond its narrow, tradition-bound borders. A series of shocking incidents brings the outside world crashing down on her backward village, exposing long-buried family secrets and setting Haddie on a collision course with an unstable firebrand who will have to silence her to protect his identity.
A tragic act of violence throws this quiet backwater into the maelstrom of change, thrusting the Bashford family into the vile cauldron of bigotry and hatred. Haddie witnesses the killing of a Negro teen by a white down-on-his-luck farmer. Ambrose Slater rushes to defend his son, Elmer, a retarded boy, outnumbered in an after-school fight, and kills Jimmy Young, the delinquent son of a single mother. The ensuing trial, manipulated by local political aspirants, attracts the attention of outside agitators who see it as a civil rights cause celeb.
The court proceedings and the demonstrations divide the town, pitting neighbor against neighbor. Violence escalates from street scuffles to mob action. Out of the chaos, an arsonist is born, who terrorizes the town, convincing each faction he does the bidding of the opposition. Barns and abandoned buildings burn and, finally, an occupied house is set ablaze, and two autistic children die in the conflagration. Fear and suspicion stalk the community.
Deed So lays bare the issues that marked the Sixties as a turning point in American History.