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Hang My Head and Cry    by Elena Santangelo order for
Hang My Head and Cry
by Elena Santangelo
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2001 (2001)

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Hang My Head and Cry is Santangelo's second book in a series and another winner. She weaves the Reconstruction Period after the Civil War and the present day into a wonderful tale of history and mystery. Miss Maggie and Pat Montella, whom we first met in By Blood Possessed, carry the present day. A captivating new character, eight year-old Emancipation Jackson narrates the historical story. Emancipation, or Mance, born the week after Lincoln's Proclamation, was named for the great event. He believes in his child's heart that 'All God's children are made of the same clay.'

The author brings alive the Reconstruction Period, a time in our country's history that is little known or understood. Her research is meticulous and she again drops us into a different time zone. She shows us the mindset of the ex-slaves and the political winds that were blowing. Santangelo weaves all this into a present day mystery, with which Pat and Miss Maggie must grapple. Pat once again retreats into the past and discovers happenings that relate to today's events in her world.

The Reconstruction Period, ghosts, a skeleton, the ten year-old son of a slave, Pat Montella and Miss Maggie whirl through this story as though thrown into an autoclave. The result is well worth reading. Pat also gives us another look into the mind of a present day American of Italian descent who loves to cook and shares her recipes and tips with the reader. Santangelo's sense of humor is devilishly evident.

Hang My Head and Cry is a keeper. I have only read it once so far, but it is on the top of my stack of books waiting to be re-read. Its periods and characters are well worth a second visit.

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