03 December 2007

23. Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry by Mildred Taylor

The other side of the To Kill a Mockingbird coin - the sad situation of the Jim Crow South with the friction, heat, and armed conflict that is missing from Mockingbird.

Set during the 30s, the Logans own their own farm, 200 acres that have been in the family for going on three generations. They farm but are left with so little money left over that the father is forced to leave the family to work the railroad in Louisiana. The mom holds down the fort, teaching at the local black school (with hand me down books from the white school), and organizing a community boycott of the white grocery.

The main conflict comes from this boycott, which is in response to a half-lynching by the family that runs the store, the Wallaces. They are a mean bunch, and they light two guys on fire for flirting with the checkout girl. One of the guys dies immediately and the other lingers.

Naturally nobody is punished for this crime and the black community is split between the that's-just-the-way-it-is crowd and the we're-not-going-to-take-it crowd.

The story is told through the voice of Cassie, who is about twelve. She's one tough cookie, getting into fights, mouthing off to her elders, and disobeying direct orders from her mom.

It was good, better in many ways than the Watson's book (#22), and would be a perfect pair with Mockingbird.

1 comment:

Olman Feelyus said...

This was a mini-series when we were kids. I remember being so psyched at the scene where the heroine beats up the older white girl.