Children's - Grade 4-6, Age 9-11
Make Way For BooksThrough powerful use of metaphor, mood, setting, and character development, Wiles crafts this documentary novel for impact; readers cannot walk away from this unchanged. The book's construction, sections of black and white photographs depicting US events during 1964, establish the tone and visually settle readers in a certain era. Several pages with a solid black background demand attention—a visual jolt that echoes the sobering dark facts Wiles relates.
The hatred that spewed from factions is documented and is unsettling but not sensationalized, and Wiles deftly contrasts a heavy unrest with empathy for and from her characters of all ages—her coming-of-age characters, her college-age volunteers whose courage spelled hope, and her noblest adults who have to maneuver the morass both as strong protectors and decision-makers. This is a substantial read, but there is no stand-still in this book; choices and consequences evolve constantly, creating history before our eyes. The writing is exquisite; the story is powerful, and highly relevant. Most appropriate for middle grade+ readers.
Publisher Summary*A 2014 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST*
It's 1964, and Sunny's town is being invaded. Or at least that's what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They're calling it Freedom Summer.
Meanwhile, Sunny can't help but feel like her house is being invaded, too. She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe. And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool -- where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.
As she did in her groundbreaking documentary novel COUNTDOWN, award-winning author Deborah Wiles uses stories and images to tell the riveting story of a certain time and place -- and of kids who, in a world where everyone is choosing sides, must figure out how to stand up for themselves and fight for what's right.
Struggling to adapt within her newly blended family in 1964 Mississippi, young Sunny witnesses increasingly scary community agitation when activists from the North arrive in town to help register African-Americans to vote.