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.