“White is something just like black is something. Everybody born on this earth is something and nobody, no matter what color, is better than anybody else.”
“Baby, we have no choice of what color we're born or who our parents are or whether we're rich or poor. What we do have is some choice over what we make of our lives once we're here.”
I have read a lot of book reviews in my book reading life thanks to both Paperbackswap and Goodreads. Many have been helpful and many not so much. It got me to thinking about what kind of a review I would write. I don’t really have confidence in my book review talent. So I have decided to stretch myself and make myself do it.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is about a black family living in the south during the 1930’s. The kids have to walk to their school and while doing so have to run and jump off the road to ensure they don’t get run over by the bus carrying the white children to their school.
Cassie, the main character, is quickly learning the injustices of her skin color and how they are treated. She seems to accept the bus issue and the hand me down school supplies, but when she is in a visiting town she is mistreated by a white store clerk and stands up to him. This doesn’t go as she had planned and then spirals downhill from there. She can’t understand why her brother and grandmother seem to take the side of the white men that are treating her in a rude fashion.
Later Cassie has to decide on what things are worth fighting for and what things she just has to accept. After the advice from her father, she decides to fight and it goes her way.
I have read a few books that deal with the issue between blacks and whites, but very few from the view of the black child. I can only think of one other book that shares this same point of view and that would be Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. And although both of these books are written from a black child’s perspective that is where I feel the similarities end. I feel as if this book really shows how the black community felt during this time. All other books just briefly touch on it, but it is once again mostly from the white perspective of how blacks are treated.
One thing I liked about this book was the fact that it didn’t sugar coat anything. It was age appropriate but it was real. The word “nigger” was used a lot and I can see how this could turn people off or upset them, but it was used a lot in real life. If the word was left out or changed, it would have been sugar coated. This was not a “nice” time in our history, and children need to know this. There were other parts of the book that I appreciated the fact that it was real.
It has taken me awhile to read this book purely for the fact that it is not a 4th grade level book. I would not recommend it to my 4th graders but only because the reading level is too high, not because of content. It is also one of those books that the middle school teachers think is a sin if you haven't read it.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and would read it again.
So, how did I do on my first book review that consisted of more than just “I liked it."?