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MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955 by Chris Crowe

MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955

By Chris Crowe

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8037-2745-3
Publisher: Putnam

Historical fiction examines the famous case of Emmett Till, whose murder was one of the triggers of the civil-rights movement. Hiram Hillburn knows R.C. Rydell is evil. He watches R.C. mutilate a catfish, but does nothing to stop him. “I didn’t want to end up like that fish,” he says. He watches R.C. throw stones at a neighbor’s house and humiliate 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African-American visitor from Chicago, and still he does nothing. Hiram says, “When things are scary or dangerous, it’s hard to see clear what to do.” When Till is brutally murdered, Hiram is sure R.C. is involved. Hiram, a white teenager who has come back to the Mississippi town where his father grew up, is the narrator and the perspective of the white outsider and the layers of his moral reflection make this an excellent examination of a difficult topic. When the case comes to trial, Hiram knows he must face his own trial: can he stand up to evil and do the right thing? He knows Mr. Paul, the local storeowner, is right: “Figure out what’s right and what’s wrong, and make yourself do the right thing. Do that and no matter what happens, no matter what people say, you’ll have no regrets.” This is a complicated thing to do, as Hiram must summon inner strength and come to terms with who he is—the son of an English professor who hates everything about the South and the grandson of a farmer who loves everything about it. Teen readers will find themselves caught up in Hiram’s very real struggle to do the right thing. (Fiction. YA)