Let the Circle Be Unbroken, by Mildred D. Taylor

Let the Circle be Unbroken, by Mildred D. Taylor

Reason for Reading: This was one of the books that I planned on reading in my February Social Justice Theme Read and decided I would have to read later this year. (I really WILL read them all, I’m determined!)

Review
Cassie and her brothers are sent reeling by a shockingly racist trial – the culmination of events from the first book in the series, Roar of Thunder Hear My Cry. In addition, Cassie’s growing up, so she learns a lot about inter-race relations and the often humiliating effects. This is a heart-rending (though sometimes slow-moving) children’s historical fiction. The story deals with complex issues and is character-driven, so even though the reading level is approximately 5th-7th grade,  this is not a book for reluctant readers unless they have a particular interest in race relations. It’s a book for children who love to read – and to absorb ideas. It’s definitely a good addition to the Roll of Thunder Series, and I find myself curious to follow the family’s saga to the end. 🙂

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor

2012 Book 143: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
Reason for Reading: This is my fourth and final book for Book Journey’s blog tour for Banned Books Week. This year, I read only YA books that I happened to have lying around in my TBR pile…it was fun! 🙂

My Review

In this Newbery Medal-winner, fourth grader Cassie Logan learns that African Americans are treated as second class citizens in Depression-era Mississippi. She and her family rebel the nasty Wallace brothers by arranging a boycott of their store. Wallace-brothers-and-friends respond with horrifying violence. This was an amazing book. The narrative was engaging, the characters were lovable, and suspense was high–I sincerely worried about what the ugly white-folk were going to do. While reading, I was struck by how similar in theme this book was to all the unoriginal dystopias that are being cranked out by the YA market these days. It was about a young girl realizing that her society was not as wonderful as she had grown up thinking…it was about fighting for your rights against a seemingly hopeless situation. But, wait! This book was actually meaningful because it was describing a REAL situation! Something tragic that people actually suffered! That makes Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry a much more powerful book than any of those dystopias can ever hope to be. I think an intelligent fourth grader who loves dystopias couldn’t help but love this book as well. 


(Oh, wait, sorry, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry IS missing the cheesy cliche love triangle that YA dystopias all seem to have these days. Sorry girls!)


This book was banned because of racism, violence, and language (including the use of the infamous n-word). There is no doubt at all–This book HAD racism, violence, and the n-word. However, the purpose of the book was to show young readers the horrors of racism–so that they could learn a bit of history AND learn to be better people themselves. This book is not going to make children into racists. The bad influence of parents, role models, and friends lead to racism. This book, with the right discussion, will be a good influence on our children. Yes, the book has scary scenes in it, but nothing most fourth graders couldn’t handle. We can’t protect our children from the real world indefinitely, and as far as I’m concerned it’s better for them to know what it’s like than to enter it in compete innocence and immediately have their fresh young spirits crushed. My philosophy–breed them tough, because sheltering only hurts them later!



The Rock and the River, by Kekla Magoon

2012 Book 32: The Rock and the River, by Kekla Magoon (2/17/2012)

Reason for Reading: It was there

My Review: 4.5/5 stars
Sam is an African American boy who comes of age in 1960’s Chicago. He is torn between the peaceful civil rights protests of his father and the Black Panther action of his older brother. This book is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Well written books about racism generally piss me off, and this book had my emotions thoroughly engaged. The performance on the audiobook was also fantastic—the reader emotionally charged his voice at just the right levels at just the right times. I would recommend this book for older teens, but it should be screened before given to younger people. There is some realistic violence.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, by Gary D. Schmidt

2012 Book 2:Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, by Gary D. Schmidt (1/3/2012)

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy is a children’s historical novel about a minister’s son who must confront narrow-mindedness in the townspeople and even his own father when his family moves to a small town in Maine. This book gives a “realistic” look at how blinded people can be by their own prejudices. I listened to it as an audiobook, and found myself in the awkward position of tearing up in public while I was listening to it on a walk. Luckily I pretended it was the sharp winter air that was giving me the sniffles. This book’s reading level is appropriate for perhaps 5th graders, but the content is a bit mature. I hated depressing books when I was that age! I gave this book 3.5/5 stars (it lost half a star for making me cry!)