Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Published: January 6, 2015
My copy: Hardcover, 320 pages (borrowed from my local library)
My rating: 5/5 stars
Summary: Stella lives in the segregated South; in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s community – her world – is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end. [Goodreads]
I read Sharon Draper’s book Out of My Mind probably four or five years ago, and I still recommend it to people. I think this book is going to be the same.
“You know that song you was singin’ about trouble? Be on the lookout for it, ’cause it’s comin’.”
Before I get into the topics discussed in this book, let’s talk about the other stuff. The writing is beautiful while still sounding like a young girl’s voice, Stella’s journal entries are random yet perfectly placed, and each and every one of the characters is created so uniquely. Stella was the perfect narrator: she wasn’t always focused on the racial issues in her area, but she knew about them and their importance; she still had normal problems like homework and she seemed like the kind of person you’d want to hang out with. The racism was a big part of the plot, like it should be, but there were other parts of the story that got their own time, giving it a good balance while still staying on track.
“What’s the sense of living if you’re ashamed of yourself?”
It was hard for me to read this (the book is set in the 1930’s) and think about how racism is still a prominent part of life today. (There is actually a kid at my school who wears a Confederate flag belt buckle. WHY) One of my favorite parts of the story was when Stella realizes that some of the white people–who are saying her father needs to be able to read and write–can’t read or write themselves! It’s such an eye-opening thing, learning that the situation isn’t even close to fair, but there’s not much you can do about it, except do the right thing and stand up for what you believe in. Another one of my favorite parts was when Stella sees that not all white people are racist and part of the KKK and that they don’t all think she’s not worthy of dying or being at a different school where all the books are 20 years old. This book really focuses on togetherness, whether it be in communities, families, friends, or just people who believe that everyone has a right to be respected and treated like everyone else. Once again, Sharon M. Draper has opened my eyes to something I thought I knew about and made me rethink everything.
Until next time, happy reading!