What It Is About: Stella lives in North Carolina during the 1930's. The south is extremely segregated. She is an outside kind of girl and especially enjoys the outdoors during the late night hours. During one of her ventures outside, she sees a far-away fire with many men in white clothing. She soon learns this is the Klan and her parents warn her to stay as far away from them as possible. She and her brother Jo Jo go to the all-black school while the white children attend their own school. Stella tries to understand why everything in their town has to be separate. Her family and their neighbors even have their own doctor. A few nights after her first sighting of the KKK, Stella finds that a neighbor's home is engulfed in flames. She becomes a hero when she is able to find one of their missing children. Life doesn't get an easier when her friend gets beat up in town, when the "white" doctor won't help her mother, and she doesn't win the writing contest her teacher has all the children enter. Stella learns that with courage and "guts" she and her family can survive anything as long as they have each other.
What I Thought Of It: While not as good as Out of My Mind, I enjoyed the novel. This was perfect timing to read this story because of the current movie Selma. It is hard to believe that people were fighting for their rights to vote during the 1930's and still fighting for those rights in the 1960's. Stella's family was strong and relied on each other to survive some difficult situations. Even though the subject matter was hard to read about, I'm glad the author didn't shy away from these real-life events. The writing was so good that I felt like I was right there with this little girl and her family.
Who Should Read It: If you are doing a historical fiction type unit, then this is the perfect book for that. If you are working on civil rights and/or voting rights, this would be a great mentor text. Because of the subject matter and the difficulty of the text, I would say this book is geared toward a fifth and/or sixth grade reader. Middle-school readers would also enjoy this story. I also think it would make for a great read aloud for students in grades four through six. Adult readers will also find this a satisfying read. Happy Reading!
Rating: 4 STARS out of 5 Stars