Friday, 8 January 2016

Book Review : Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry. - Mildred D Taylor. A child's book with much to remind Adults.

I am a strong proponent of revisiting books that you read ( or should have read) in school. My school was set up in such a way that different streams would have different set texts. I never got to read this back in my early teens and reading it now, knowing what I do about the Civil Rights Movement and the struggles that Black Americans still face makes it far more resonant than it would have been to a white thirteen year old girl in a fairly affluent and predominantly, white town in East Anglia.

It is apparently the sequel to a short story and published in 1976, still has much to teach.

From burnings of black boys for being "Uppity", to the supply of second (3rd, 4th, 5th!) hand textbooks which are deemed unfit for white children. The book illustrates much. The tacit acceptance of the lack of school buses for children at Black Schools,resulting in the children being forced into ditches to avoid the bus driven at them for the entertainment of the White children, this book is a clear social commentary on the race divide in the USA in the thirties.

This family  are lucky, being a Teacher's brood, these children are well educated within a system that does not care to educate black children to any degree. Little boy Jeremy is a great foil, incredibly poor and so not embraced by the other white children, but his own heritage makes him unwelcome with the Logan children.

The book was a mix of innocent childhood naivety  and social discussion of the life lived during a period of racial unrest and even more resonant now we are in the midst of another! Adult matters are examined through Children's eyes.

The book holds no punches and the length of the work and it's ending were appropriate to the subject matter. I wish I had read this as a child, but I am happier to have read it as an adult. A great book should stay with you, it should pop up in your mind, it should affect you emotionally. This story did. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in US History. We KNOW of the atrocious way Racial Divides affected the country, but this book by Mildred D Taylor (whose inspiration was her own family lineage ) is an easily accessible and authentic reminder when we become numbed to the realities of the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment