Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Released: 1st of September 2015
Thirteen-year-old Billie Simms doesn't think her hometown of Anniston, Alabama, should be segregated, but few of the town's residents share her opinion. As equality spreads across the country and the Civil Rights Movement gathers momentum, Billie can't help but feel stuck--and helpless--in a stubborn town too set in its ways to realize that the world is passing it by.
So when Billie learns that the Freedom Riders, a group of peace activists riding interstate buses to protest segregation, will be traveling through Anniston on their way to Montgomery, she thinks that maybe change is finally coming and her quiet little town will shed itself of its antiquated views. But what starts as a series of angry grumbles soon turns to brutality as Anniston residents show just how deep their racism runs.
The Freedom Riders will resume their ride to Montgomery, and Billie is now faced with a choice: stand idly by in silence or take a stand for what she believes in. Through her own decisions and actions and a few unlikely friendships, Billie is about to come to grips with the deep-seated prejudice of those she once thought she knew, and with her own inherent racism that she didn't even know she had.
What I Have to Say
This is the sort of book that really makes you think. It's a very interesting insight in the lives of the children during such turbulent historical events. It was obviously very well researched and thought out, because the two girls were fitted into the events that happened really well. Jarmaine obviously fits in as a young black character who is angry at the world, but putting Billie right up the road from where the bus event happens was a really good choice.
At first I was a bit uncertain about the fact that the author was showing such an important part of black history through the eyes of a white girl, but as the book went on, I started to see what he was trying achieve and I think it worked really well. As Billie's eyes are opened to the prejudice surrounding her everyday life, it's easier for the reader to see it. Telling it from Jarmaine's perspective wouldn't have worked so well to highlight the segregation and how deeply it ran. That said, I think that a dual narrative would have been nice for this book.
As I said, this book is obviously so well researched. It was clever how the author slid the two girls into the events so that they were at the center of everything without affecting the integrity of the events that happened.
I stayed up late two nights in a row to read this book because it was so addictive. This is a must for all fans of Middle Grade and a great book for diversity.