“But in Mississippi you never knew what little thing could spark a flame and get you killed. Registering to vote. Voting. Or even something as little as whistling at a white woman.”
Jim Crow laws are still affecting Mississippi in 1955 as with the rest of the Deep South. African American’s are legally free, but in Mississippi the color of your skin still means everything. Rose Lee Carter, the 13 year-old African-American narrator shares her dreams of moving out of her grandparent’s sharecropper house and to live up north. But to where? To Chicago, where her Mama left her and her brother for a husband and a new set of kids? Or to St. Louis with her Aunt Belle, a Civil Rights activist that supports the controversial NAACP?
Throughout the book we read about racism in the South and how some African Americans like Rose Lee’s grandmother are content with their lives working for a white family and okay with the law that deemed, “separate but equal”. But, Rose Lee Carter and those in her community are forced to see things differently when an African American boy, Emmett Till, is found murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
Would you stand up for what you believe in even if you might be killed? Or would you stay in the shadows and hope that nothing changes?
Rose’s voice comes through as a witty and intelligent young girl that tries to see hope in the darkest places. This heart-felt, but raw historical novel is recommended for sixth grade and up.