Who is Jim HinesTitle: Who is Jim Hines?
Author: Jean Alicia Elster
ISBN: 9780814334027
Pages: 134 pages
Publisher/Date: Wayne State University Press, c2008.

“Doug knew them all, except one. His dad talked about him, but Doug never saw his truck. He never came with the other men in the morning. Doug heard his name often enough, so he knew he worked for his dad. But he never saw him. His name was Jim Hines.” (3)

Douglas Ford Jr.’s dad owns the neighborhood wood company in Detroit in the 1930s. While Doug knows every other worker, he hears about Jim Hines but never sees him. His questions go unanswered, even after he begins to work for his dad to pay for some lost school books. What’s the big secret?

There’s not a lot of anticipation or suspense in determining who Jim Hines is in the story. It’s more of a nagging inconvience than a driving plot point for the main character. The answer though provides a conversation starter about racism that is good for younger discussion groups and children. A number of details make it an enjoyable, although the addition of a supplemental map would have been very beneficial for those readers who are not familiar with the Detroit area, and even those who are. The story is based on family oral tradition, which could also spark discussion and further research into reader’s own family trees.