Monday, June 23, 2014

MMGM: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry


I’ve been trying to pre-read some of the books my son (who’ll be in 7th grade) will be reading next year. This was one that I hadn’t read, but had been meaning to for awhile.

This is an unforgettable story. I’m so glad I picked it up.


Here’s the synopsis (which doesn’t do the book justice):

Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family's struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. And it is also Cassie's story—Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect.

What I loved about this book:

This book reminded me of the power of fiction. It’s one thing to read about terrible things happening due to racism, but quite another to experience it through Cassie's eyes.

I loved the characters in this book. The fact that Cassie was so sympathetic and her family so strong and loving contrasted so well with the evil she experienced at the hands of many of the whites in the book.

I loved how her family would never back down. Other characters in the novel had given up hope that anything could change. Her family stood up to racism whenever they could.

The ending, though sad, was poignant and real. Taylor didn’t whitewash racism and that shows how much she respects her readership. Although the ending wasn’t happy, it was hopeful. I know Cassie and her family won’t give up.

Author Notes: My edition included a foreword by the author. She talked about how she got the lines for the song “Roll of Thunder” in her head around the same time she had a feeling this book would win the Newberry. The story was based on her dad’s family history. He didn’t live to see it published.

She also talked about how the book has been banned. Her response: “My stories will not be ‘politically correct,’ so there will be those who will be offended by them, but as we all know, racism is offensive.’”

Parent/Teacher Advisory: There is quite a bit of violence in this book, although most of it takes place off stage. There are a couple of instances of the “n” word.

If you are interested in reading more middle grade novels that touch on African-American history, please come back next week. I’m going to be interviewing Sam Posey, author of THE LAST STATION MASTER, who has a passion for bringing African-American history to life, especially for boys.
What amazing middle grades have you read lately?

To check out more Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.

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16 comments:

  1. I also loved this classic. It's one of those that you can reread every few years. Thanks for featuring and for the heads up on what you have for next week. I'll be back!

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    1. Yes, it was so amazing! Glad to hear you'll be coming back next week.

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  2. I read this for the first time this spring. I was working with a home and hospital 7th grade student and we read it together. The best thing for both of us was finding out this is part of a series! We loved it so much and just wanted more. I'm hoping to get to the other books soon.

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    1. That sounds like a wonderful way to read this book. I'm going to need to get the rest of the books in the series as well.

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  3. Oh, so good to see this book getting some love! I know it gets a fair amount, but it can't get too much. ;) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I so agree! I am glad I finally picked it up after hearing such good things about it.

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  4. I really need to read this book. I've heard of it, but your feature reminds me of what an important book it is.

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    1. Yes, it's a must read and so powerful.

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  5. Sounds like an incredible story. I think it's great that you pre-read your son's books. It should result in some great conversations between the two of you once he starts reading them.

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    1. Yes, that's what I hope will happen. This is definitely one that I want to discuss.

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  6. I'm pretty sure I read this when I was a kid. I read so voraciously back then- and so much time has passed since then*sigh*- that sometimes I just can't remember. Bugger. I should just read it now then! =) Also, what a powerful title.

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    1. I hadn't even heard of it until recently, but boy, it's one I won't forget. Yes, I love the title, too.

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  7. I'm thrilled you highlighted an older book - one i"ve been planning to read this year. Now I'm super excited to read it! I read another Newbery a couple months ago, the Bronze Bow, which was amazing!

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    1. I loved Bronze Bow, too, although it's been a few years since I read it. There's a lot of gems on the Newberry list and it's fun to go back and read some of the older ones.

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  8. I love it when a book really addresses an issue and takes us into another mentality or time. I thin that's the most powerful part of reading, experiencing another person's perspective.

    Hey, I nominated you. http://crystalcollier.blogspot.com/2014/06/awards-for-meawards-for-you.html

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  9. I read this book in January for the first time and loved it so much I wish I'd read it earlier. Gorgeous writing and an important subject for our country. Now I need to read more of her Logan family books.

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