Bull Santee, a thirteen-year-old black boy, is being held by the sheriff of tiny Sunset, Mississippi, for sneaking into a white man’s backyard and brutally beating his pet dog to death. But Shy Brown knows Bull didn’t do it. How does Shy, a privileged white kid from Memphis and the grandson of one of the most important men in Sunset, get involved in something as ugly and disturbing as this? What does Shy know? How does he know it? And what is he going to do about it?
Twelve Days in Sunset chronicles a 1967 summer stay at twelve-year-old Shy Brown’s grandparents’ house in Sunset. For the first time, the sheltered Shy faces bullying, hatred, and racism. Yet he also discovers loyalty , honor, and friendship in a way his cloistered life back in Memphis would never have afforded.
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“With rich, intimate descriptions of the characters and setting in a town he calls Sunset, Upshaw tells the moving story of twelve-year-old “Shy” (for Shiloh) Brown, and his special bond with Queen, the cook in his paternal grandparents’ home. If this book doesn’t make you want to recommend it to your three best friends, and if Upshaw doesn’t nail life in rural Jim Crow Mississippi, you can kiss my grits.”
–John Warley, Author of A Southern Girl, The Home Guard and Stand Forever, Yielding Never
“This evoking story of a young boy thrust into the juxtapositions of the ‘most Southern place on earth’ exudes love, loyalty, transitions, and the way it was…back in the day. A good read.”
—Hank Burdine, Author of Dust in the Road: Recollections of a Delta Boy
“Upshaw is a good storyteller, and his style and imagination make for easy and enjoyable reading. There are times when the reader may be reminded of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Atticus and Scout, and Lucius Priest and his grandfather.”
—Gerald Walton, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Mississippi
“Upshaw captures the pleasures and perils of life in a small Southern town in the civil rights era with this engaging coming-of-age tale. The star of his novel, the tough and tender Queen, is the most formidable ruler of a household since Harper Lee’s Calpurnia. The conclusion is satisfying without being pat, and left me wondering about where the characters I had come to love would go from there.”
—Kathryn Smith, Author of The Gatekeeper and Gertie: The Fabulous Life of Gertrude Sanford Legendre
“If you like character-driven coming-of-age stories, spend 12 days in Sunset with Shiloh Brown. It’s the summer of 1967, when “Shy” encounters a series of vexing personal challenges that chip away at his innocence. He has one foot in the privileged white world of Memphis where he is insulated from the hard truths of reality – the other foot in rural Sunset, Mississippi where human culture and colors blend on a daily basis. Sometimes for better (when Shy experiences the benefits), sometimes for worse (when he experiences the painful brunt). Best read while sitting in a squeaky porch swing. Sip a spiked lemonade. Listen for the sharp crack of a bat colliding with a baseball, sending it with high velocity towards a wide-eyed right fielder teetering precariously on the edge of maturity and enlightenment.”
—Mark Adkins, novel books, Memphis, TN