Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe. Critical Context - Essay

Bette Evensky

Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Understanding the life of an African American sixth-grade girl growing up in Arkansas in the 1950’s provides a complement to a social studies unit on communities, the South, or black history. Racial understanding should not be confined to one month in February, Black History Month, and Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe., is appropriate for reading and study anytime. Its themes go beyond the color line to universal truths about friendship, affection, and achievements. A special aspect of the book is the humor, fun, and relaxed life in a small town. For some, this is a remembered experience of the past, but for others who reside in similar communities today, the story will be timely. Words by Heart (1979), by Ouida Sebestyen, also offers a female student bent on success; this book takes place during the early twentieth century and includes violence toward black people.

Bette Greene’s sequel, Get on out of Here, Philip Hall (1981), continues the story of this duo in a cheerful and adventurous style. For a more serious example of Greene’s work, Summer of My German Soldier explores history, tolerance, and acceptance. In Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe., and in all of Greene’s writing, the protagonist becomes a person of value, which is a worthy message for all readers. When Philip finally says, “Sometimes I reckon I likes you, Beth Lambert,” a sense of closure has been reached for the main character and for the novel.