A TUGGING STRING

A NOVEL ABOUT GROWING UP DURING THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA

Although it’s squarely focused on the events that culminate in the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., this novel isn’t quite so sure of its genre. Moving abruptly from memoir to history to fiction, it never finds its fit. Greenberg, the son of influential civil-rights lawyer Jack Greenberg, attempts to show how the events of the 1960s both destabilized his family and changed the nation. His highly fictionalized account explores both his own family’s travails and those of the Miltons, a fictional African-American couple whose experiences are meant to be emblematic of life under Jim Crow. The book succeeds when it shares intimate family moments, but too often it resorts to long passages of expository dialogue and fiddles with the facts to make the plot work. A concluding note attempts to separate fact from fiction and in so doing makes readers wonder why the author didn’t simply tell his family’s story and let such works as Diane McWhorter’s A Dream of Freedom (2004) tell others. (afterword, footnotes) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-525-47967-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2008

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

Coming soon!!

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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