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A Tugging String: A Novel About Growing Up During the Civil Rights Era

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  85 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Duvy Greenberg is an ordinary twelve-year-old trying to fit in. He knows that his father, Jack, is a civil rights lawyer, but Duvy lives worlds away from Dorothy Milton, a black woman struggling to become a registered voter in Selma, Alabama. When Dorothy reaches out to Martin Luther King Jr. for help, she sets in motion a series of events that—with Jack Greenberg’s help—w ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published October 16th 2008 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
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The Styling Librarian
A Tugging String- A Novel about Growing Up During the Civil Rights Era by David T. Greenberg – Historical Fiction, 6th grade and up – What a powerful novel and reflection on the impact a man has on the lifes of so many when taking risks with this life to do what is right. Made me so grateful to brave lawyers. Made me appreciate seeing the experience through the eyes of that lawyer’s young son. What an interesting premise. If I were sharing this book with students right now I’d promote it with ju ...more
May 21, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
A recent gift from my future mother & father-in-law was a signed copy of A Tugging String by David T. Greenberg, son of Jack Greenberg (former director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund). A Tugging String is a nonfiction novel set during the Civil Right Movement, specifically during the 1960s and the years leading up to the Selma-Montgomery Voting Rights March of 1965.

What a great resource this book would be in a classroom (late elementary into middle school) where the Civil Rights Movement w
Linda Owen
May 13, 2016 Linda Owen rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
David Greenberg writes a fictional account of his father, Jack, and his work as a Civil Rights lawyer, focusing especially on the Selma march. I found the footnotes confusing. Even at the bottom of the page, they were distracting and, of course, factual. At the end, he gives an overview of which parts are fictional and which are real, so the footnotes were unnecessary. His father also writes an afterword and gives his viewpoint on some of the events. The pictures in the middle are interesting, b ...more
Mrs. Hassig
Jan 23, 2016 Mrs. Hassig rated it it was amazing
I've done a very good job this summer picking out great books to read! I would love to meet David Greenberg. I have several of his non-fiction books in my library, but this historical fiction selection is really wonderful. I will share some of his experiences when I booktalk this genre next month. Can you imagine answering your phone and realizing it is Martin Luther King, Jr.???!! I knew the Bridge in Selma was bad, but I had no idea how bad. I'm embarrassed for the South and some of their citi ...more
Feb 04, 2016 Salsabrarian rated it it was ok
The author recollects growing up in a Jewish family with a father who was a key civil rights lawyer, involved with historic cases such as Brown v. Education and working with no less than Thurgood Marshall. The cover describes the book as a novel but the sometimes newscast-like prose and footnotes makes it feel more like a textbook at times. Non-fiction or novel, non-fiction or novel? The shifting of perspective from Duvy to Dorothy to Martin Luther King to others and back again gave the book a s ...more
Feb 09, 2014 Helen rated it liked it
I read this historical fiction since the author is coming to our district in April. We've promised our 5-6th graders a field trip to Brown v. Board if they read it before he comes. It was a novel based on the author's and his family's experience while his dad was a lawyer for Martin Luther King during the civil rights march to Montgomery. It was interesting, but definitely more of a history lesson than an enjoyable read. It did give me some insight into the author, though,so I'm glad I read it.
Apr 22, 2009 Rachael rated it really liked it
Greenberg alternates between telling the story of being the son of a leading Civil Rights lawyer and a fictionalized retelling of some of the major Civil Rights events of 1964-65. I found it fascinating that his father really did defend most of the key players in the Civil Rights movement, and even was one of the lawyers who argued for Brown v. Board of Education. Greenberg carefully spells out which aspects of his story are true, and which he fictionalized for dramatic purposes. I really apprec ...more
Brandon O'Neill
Feb 18, 2009 Brandon O'Neill rated it it was amazing
Author David Greenberg is visiting our school, so I thought it would be both proper and appropriate to have read something of his before he came. His latest offering and 1st novel is A Tugging String: A Novel About Growing Up During the Civil Rights Era. Maybe my review should be taken with a grain of salt since I've been email with David and have somewhat of a relationship with him, but I was blown away by this book. He is like a male Scout of To Kill a Mockingbird.
His father, Jack Greenberg
Leah Koch
Apr 28, 2015 Leah Koch marked it as to-read
This historical fiction story set in the civil rights era provides a unique perspective. Told from the point of view of a lawyer's twelve year old son, Duvy, the book tells the tale of a woman named Dorothy trying to become a registered voter in Selma, Alabama. Through his dad, Duvy encounters real characters like Martin Luther King Jr. and real events like the Selma-Montgomery march, making the book a perfect companion to a civil rights social studies lesson.
Reynold Forman
Jul 12, 2014 Reynold Forman rated it it was amazing
This might be the most important book middle school students should read if we truly want to promote cross-curricular literature. I learned more American history from this book than I did from all of my history texts. It's so well written with passion, heart and excitement. I'm glad I put this in our curriculum.
Dec 21, 2010 Rayda rated it did not like it
This book is about growing up during the Civil Rights Era. I didn't like it because it thoroughly mixed up fiction with reality, and reordered some things from history to fit the book, and combined some real people into one character. I didnt' like not knowing what was fact and what was fiction. Plus, it used vocabulary which in this day and time has become verbotten, though it may have been frequently used in the 1960s, and it jarred me every time I read it. Only one or two of my fifth grade st ...more
This book fuses nonfiction and fiction. It tells the story of fictional characters who interact with real figures from history, such as MLK Jr. It also a novel, making it yet another type of text in the set.
Sep 24, 2009 Deborah rated it liked it
I would rate this one 3 1/2 stars. The story told by Duvy is based on his real childhood experience the civil rights in the 1960s. He shows the reader the plight of black people from all walks of life. Primary sources are intertwined throughout the story and there are plenty of footnotes to help the reader better understand the setting and history. However, the dialogue and planning of some of the historic figures like MLK jr., seem oversimplified. The author explains this in one of his footnote ...more
Apr 04, 2010 Sally rated it it was amazing
The civil rights is a complex piece of history and generally students learn pieces. This book combines many of the events and names we know of the civil rights movement and identifies the connection between them. Greenberg readily admits to condensing history and rearranging events. He generously includes footnotes.

I would think that this book would help students better understand the Civil Right Era.

Individuals & events addressed: Thurgood Marshall; Rosa Parks; of course: Martin Luther King
Amber Brenneman
Jun 10, 2016 Amber Brenneman rated it really liked it
David Greenberg visited our school and shared some of his stories. He was an interesting speaker and his book is a good read!
Jan 10, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I read this book because the author visited my school. He was an energetic, passionate speaker, and he has an important message to convey. His dad worked alongside Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr., so he has a unique perspective to his storytelling. Interesting look at an important historical time.
Oct 27, 2014 Allison rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. A very accessible account of the civil rights movement for middle-grade readers--with lengthy quotes from important speeches and court decisions of the day.
May 11, 2016 Namika rated it liked it
Duvy is a normal twelve-year-old trying to fit into to his home, but a huge obstacle blocks the way. A black woman is struggling to become a registered voter, and his dad is a lawyer. Throughout this journey of getting justice and equality, Duvy opens his eyes to a whole new world and comes to the realization of racial discrimination. A powerful novel that'll comes from a perspective of people fighting for what they believe is right.
Chris Hays
Nov 29, 2014 Chris Hays rated it liked it
Shelves: children, teaching
Interesting perspectives during troubled times. I wish the flow through different perspectives did not feel so jarring.
Debra Landay
Nov 08, 2010 Debra Landay rated it it was amazing
The book which uses part fiction and part fact to tell the story of civil rights from the perspective of a middle class white boy, who learns about the KKK and Jim Crow laws. It is an easy read, and easily works in some of the basics of the history of inequality even though slavery ended 100 years before the book takes place.
Paula Soper
Aug 28, 2013 Paula Soper rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, 2013
This was a great book, and I finished it today in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Actually, this book centers around the March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

I really think that this book should be taught in schools. I highly recommend it to my teacher friends.
Horace Mann Family Reading Challenge
A Tugging String: A Novel About Growing Up During the Civil Rights Era, is an interesting mix of fiction and history revolving around the Civil Right Movement. PK
Went with Dalton to see the author. He actually writes kids book, perfect read with next weeks inaguration upon us
Jan 01, 2010 Pamela rated it it was amazing
Excellent book with a unique perspective of civil rights struggles in the 1960's.
Sep 12, 2010 Christine rated it really liked it
This would be a good book to read to students about the Civil Rights Movement.
Feb 12, 2011 Anna rated it it was amazing
Great engaging book that I could NOT put down!
Feb 21, 2011 Robin rated it really liked it
Gina Coppolino
Gina Coppolino marked it as to-read
Aug 22, 2016
Clara marked it as to-read
Aug 17, 2016
Evan Jones
Evan Jones rated it it was amazing
Jul 25, 2016
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