WHITE LILACS by Carolyn Meyer


Age Range: 8 - 12
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 Meyer (The Broken Heart Still Beats, 1992) revisits Texas history with an incident from the 20's, when the blacks of Denton (``Dillon'') were forced from their homes to make way for a park. As Meyer explains in a note, the whites callously used quasi- legal moves and intimidation to drive out a thriving community of 58 families. Using fictional characters, she explores typical attitudes: Rose Lee, 12, overhears her white employer describe her home and people in cruelly demeaning terms; when Rose Lee alerts her community, most people despair of averting the calamity, though brother Henry (back from WW I) tries to organize a protest strike; he's tarred and feathered in retaliation. Cheated of fair prices for their homes, the blacks are moved to an inferior site; key people (teachers, the doctor) leave altogether. Meyer's moving account is as much documentary as novel, with a vividly realized setting and a good array of characters to dramatize issues. Consequences of the move are far- reaching--without their doctor, Rose Lee's grandfather dies; without a northern teacher who's fired for her support of the blacks, Rose Lee's artistic talent goes unnourished. Henry, still unbowed, escapes the Klan with the help of a white friend--a possible occurrence, and one for which Meyer lays careful groundwork, but as a climactic incident it creates an unfortunate emphasis in a book focused on the blacks' tragedy. Still, a compelling, well-researched depiction of a grievous injustice. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-15-200641-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993


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