Summary: When Winter Robeson Came
When Winter Robeson came to visit his cousin, Eden in the summer of 1965, he had another agenda. Winter is a 13-year-old boy visiting Los Angeles from Mississippi. Unbeknownst to Eden and her family, Winter isn’t just there to see Disneyland — he’s looking for his father J.T. Robeson who came to LA 12 years ago and never returned. Eventually, he gets Eden to help him on his search. Not long after, the Watts Riot erupts.
The first word that comes to mind when I think of this book is “atmospheric.” Author Brenda Woods takes readers straight to 1965 the second they begin this story. My heart went out to Winter and his sweet cousin Eden as they worked to find J.T. I also wasn’t sure where this book would lead, but it’s worth reading to find out.
This is a verse novel (although reading an eARC with messed up formatting made it hard to recognize) and it is so lyrical, but highly accessible and very plot-centered. It’s less than 200 pages long and moves along quickly, carrying readers along. I learned a fair bit about life in LA in 1965. More places were becoming less segregated and Black people were starting to buy property while dealing with racial prejudice and police brutality.
I loved the mundane activities of life and the warm family dynamics. It was nice to see Eden and her family go to parties, see what tween girls were like (they all crushed hard on Winter), and see Eden and Winter traipse around the city trying to solve the mystery of his father’s absence. The ending of this book is super satisfying, and in such uncertain times, I think many readers will welcome this.
Overall: When Winter Robeson Came
When Winter Robeson Came is a rich, immersive middle grade verse novel about family, LA in 1965, and the mystery of a missing parent. One of the kids, Eden loves music and is learning to play the piano, which may appeal to music-loving kids. This book also has a strong historical component as it highlights events of the Watts riots in 1965. Overall, I really liked this one and hope to read more from the author.