Deza is The Mighty Miss Malone. Smart, funny, loyal, and hardworking, Deza Malone lives with her mother, father, and older brother, Jimmie in Gary, Indiana during The Great Depression. This story is hers, and she is exceptional, but I want to write about Jimmie.
Jimmie is Deza's fifteen year old brother. He's small for his age - he stopped growing when he was twelve. He loves his family, is caring and kind to Deza, and wants to do the right thing, but Jimmie always finds a way to land himself in trouble. Maybe it's because he wants to prove he is big, maybe it's because he loves and wants to help his family, or maybe it's because Jimmie is not too bright, but Jimmie makes bad choices. He hangs out with a numbers man, steals pies off windowsills, and gets into fights with bullies. It feels like you should dislike Jimmie, but you can't. Jimmie is a likable scoundrel.
Jimmie has a hard time reading, he can't draw or spell, but Jimmie has one talent that everyone recognizes. Jimmie can sing. He sings in church, he sings for his family, and he sings the National Anthem at Negro League baseball games. Jimmie needs no accompaniment. His pitch is perfect, and his voice is high and clear. And Jimmie loves to sing because singing makes him feel ten feet tall.
When Deza and Jimmie's father leaves the family to go find work, the family packs up and goes looking for him. Things are bleak for the Malones, but by the story's conclusion Christopher Paul Curtis teaches us a thing or two (or three) about heroes - they aren't always big, they aren't always smart, and they aren't always the story's main character.
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