Cover image for Unstoppable Octobia May
Unstoppable Octobia May
Flake, Sharon, author.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, 2014.
Physical Description:
276 pages ; 22cm
In 1953 ten-year-old Octobia May lives in her Aunt's boarding house in the South, surrounded by an African American community which has its own secrets and internal racism, and spends her days wondering if Mr. Davenport in room 204 is really a vampire--or something else entirely.
Reading Level:
550 Lexile.


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Audubon Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Clarence Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Clearfield Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Lancaster Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Frank E. Merriweather Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
North Park Branch Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Bestselling and award-winning author, Sharon G. Flake, delivers a mystery set in the 1950s that eerily blends history, race, culture, and family.

Octobia May is girl filled with questions. Her heart condition makes her special - and, some folks would argue, gives this ten-year-old powers that make her a "wise soul." Thank goodness for Auntie, who convinces Octobia's parents to let her live in her boarding house that is filled with old folks. That's when trouble, and excitement, and wonder begin. Auntie is non-traditional. She's unmarried and has plans to purchase other boarding homes and hotels. At a time when children, and especially girls, are "seen, not heard," Auntie allows Octobia May the freedom and expression of an adult. When Octobia starts to question the folks in her world, an adventure and a mystery unfold that beg some troubling questions: Who is black and who is "passing" for white? What happens when a vibrant African American community must face its own racism?

And, perhaps most important: Do vampires really exist? In her most and probing novel yet, Sharon G. Flake takes us on a heart-pumping journey.

Author Notes

Sharon G. Flake exploded onto the literary scene with her novel THE SKIN I'M IN, in 1998, and was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. Since then she has become a multiple Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award winner and many of her novels have received ALA Notable and Best Books for Young Adults citations from the American Library Association. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Please visit Sharon's website:

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Octobia May is convinced that Mr. Davenport, the new tenant in her Aunt Shuma's boarding house, is a vampire, even though she thinks, the man is colored like me. Now I know the truth; vampires do not discriminate. Octobia must revise her conviction, however, when she sees Mr. Davenport outside in broad daylight (death to a real vampire), but there's still something mysterious about the man. When a series of murders then ensue and a cache of stolen jewels is discovered, Octobia May and her best friend, Jonah, are determined to find the truth at any cost. Set in 1953, Flake's novel is not only a mystery but also an examination of racial discrimination in the pre-civil rights era, and the many corollary constraints on the freedom of black Americans. Octobia May longs to be free herself free of discrimination, certainly, but also free simply to be her own rambunctious self. Flake has done a fine job of integrating her expository material into a reader-satisfying and page-turning mystery.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

It's 1953, and 10-year-old Octobia May believes that "freedom is as big as the moon for a colored gal who ain't afraid of nothing." She's eager to follow in her Aunt Shuma's footsteps and go after what she wants, even if others disapprove. But trying to prove that her aunt's insomniac boarder, Mr. Davenport, is a vampire could be too risky, even for brave, quick-thinking Octobia May. After she thinks she sees Mr. Davenport murdering a woman on the street, she is targeted by the boarder, who is a wealthy banker, and an Irish policeman who thinks she's up to no good. Three-time Coretta Scott King Honoree Flake (The Skin I'm In) offers a fast-paced mystery that traces Octobia May's journey into dangerous territory at a time when women and African-Americans struggled to exercise their rights. Though some of Octobia May's feats push plausibility and some secrets about Mr. Davenport's past too easily discovered, Flake provides an eye-opening picture of post-WWII America. Octobia May is a determined sleuth who will win the admiration of Flake's fans. Ages 8-12. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-Octobia May has an untamed imagination. When she moves in with her Auntie Shuma, Octobia spends her days doing chores with her pretend servant friends, talking to the graves of the Before Girls at the nearby cemetery, and trying to unveil one of Auntie's boarders, Mr. Davenport, as the vampire he is. With the help of her friends, Jonah and Bessie, Octobia uncovers the dastardly deeds of Mr. Davenport, although the deeds have more to do with bank robbery and murder than with drinking blood. This story paints a realistic portrait of life for an African American girl in the 1950s, but the characterization and plot are marred by unclear writing. While the plot meanders, little information is offered about Octobia's (or any other character's) backstory, leaving readers ungrounded throughout the tale. Awkward quote attributions and murky action may have been meant to add to the mysterious nature of the plot, but fall short as one passage may take several examinations to comprehend. The way the adults, especially police officer O'Malley, in this story inexplicably flounder about with a cold-blooded murderer on the loose is unbelievable. Short chapters begin with a thick, black border, and a selected bibliography of relevant history ends the novel. While Octobia and other well-rounded characters were enjoyable and the overall plot was exciting, a less complicated writing style would have better highlighted the good this story offered.- Brittany Staszak, Glencoe Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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