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Sources of Light

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  465 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
It's 1962,a year after the death of Sam's father--he was a warhero--and Sam and her mother must move, along with their very liberal views,to Jackson, Mississippi, her father's conservative hometown. Needless to say, they don't quite fit in.
People like the McLemores fear that Sam, her mother, and her mother's artist friend, Perry, are in the South to "agitate" and to shak
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 12th 2010 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2010)
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Dec 23, 2014 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With exquisite prose the author tells the story of a 14 year old girl's awakening to the hate and prejudice that surround her in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. It's the beginning of the civil rights movement and Samantha (Sam) observes firsthand the beatings and arrests of black and white students doing peaceful protests as they sit together at lunch counters or attempt to register black citizens to vote. She sees all this through the lens of the camera given to her by her mom's friend and fellow ...more
Tara Chevrestt
May 16, 2010 Tara Chevrestt rated it really liked it
This has been a great read and I highly recommend it for young adults everywhere. It's a story about Mississippi in the 1960s and the fight for segregation and how hate and racism affects all relationships, working, family, friendships, and community.

Samantha is 14 going on 15 and her after her dad dies in Vietnam, her mother accepts a teaching position in Mississippi. Samantha and her mom have different ideas about race, class, and segregation than the rest of Mississippi in 1962 tho and Samant
Jun 25, 2013 ❤Rosa❤ rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants a quick but good read
As seems to be the case with many of my book reviews, Goodreads recommended Sources of Light to me. Due to the subject of the book I assumed it would be thicker and have smaller words. When I went to pick up the book from the library, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. My immediate thoughts were along the lines of “how can a book tackle an issue like social injustice in 240 pages?” Well, I learnt that a book doesn’t have to have millions of eloquent words to have a potent, long-lasting ef ...more
Apr 14, 2011 Aaron rated it really liked it
It's 1962, and Samantha is settling into her new home in Mississippi. She and her mom moved there shortly after the death of her father in heroic action while serving in Vietnam. There new home was chosen for two reasons. First, it is close to Sam's father's hometown, which will allow them an opportunity to reconnect with family. The other reason is that Sam's mom has taken a position at a local college teaching art history.

Sam quickly finds herself feeling out of place. She does well in school,
Emily West
Apr 10, 2011 Emily West rated it really liked it
I read sources of light because it had one of the word it had to have iun the title, which was "light." I picked this book from the others b...moreI read sources of light because it had one of the word it had to have iun the title, which was "light." I picked this book from the others because the description on the back intreged me!

I liked this book because the charector was sort of like me in ways. She loved to hang out with people, and she is very creative. I also liked how the book explain
Mar 29, 2012 Star rated it it was amazing
Sam is a good kid and when she and her mom move to Jackson - close to where her dad grew up - she tries hard to fit in with the "popular crowd". However, she soon realizes something is way more important. She lives in the time of the civil rights movement and it's resistance, especially in the deep South. Sam uses the camera her mother's friend gives to her to capture the heart of Jackson - unvarnished and raw - showing the light and darkness within.

This book was heartbreakingly beautiful and a
Alexandra Carpenter
Jul 06, 2015 Alexandra Carpenter rated it really liked it
While the writing itself wasn't anything special, I thought it had a really unique storyline for a YA novel. It reminded me of The Help, only from a teenage perspective and with photography as the vehicle through which the racist behavior was made public, not writing. The portions of the plot involving Stone seemed really predictable. There was also an overload of clichés in the writing, but still a good story overall.
Indigo Cat
May 29, 2012 Indigo Cat rated it it was amazing
What I like about Sam is that she isn't one of those 'perfect' protagonists. All of us have felt peer pressure, to be like the popular kids, and Sam is affected just like any other human being. She finally realizes that it doesn't matter; there are people out there, mostly black, who don't have the same rights as everyone else, have to say "Miss" or "Ms." or "Mr." just because of their skin color. And, she captures the violence and the love between people with her camera. What she can't at the m ...more
Mar 21, 2016 Miriam rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like this book that much. It seemed as if there wasn't a plot. Also, it took more than half the book to get to the climax. The book was very vague. The author didn't use show don't tell, which made the book very boring, but it also made the book seem very fictional. The main character had many different personalities throughout the book, and the personality changes were very noticeable. It didn't flow and Stone was always changing his mind on integration. Overall, this book should be re ...more
Nov 22, 2010 Amy rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
Ugh. I wanted to like this. The tone and voice had an authentic feel and that made me think of "What I Saw and How I Lied," by Blundell, and I was hoping for an engrossing historical fiction to recommend to teens. It was not nearly as good as that though. It has some good moments, but I could not get past how instructional it was. Every time the horrors of the civil rights struggle in the deep south were described, the author had to tell us how and what to think about it. I might go as far to sa ...more
May 30, 2010 Colleen rated it really liked it
This book was so moving. I really have never grasped the nature and influence of the cruelty toward African-Americans. I never really knew that so close to present day, there was still such severe racism. I like how the character of Stone is so, well...broken. He knows what he wants to think, but he also sees the results and is afraid of them. He can see that Sam and her mother's point of view about racism is right. His family is on the other side and he is torn between. I really like how the au ...more
Lauren Elise
Nov 18, 2014 Lauren Elise rated it it was amazing
Around three years ago I pulled this off the library shelf expecting some sort of bad, sloppy, contemporary novel (keep in mind I had not done any research on this book previously), and was pleasantly surprised with what was really in the book- Conservative South, 1960s. People whom are human rights activists & feminists alike will absolutely fall in love with our protagonist, 14 year Sam Thompson, a liberal raised girl who's lost her father, and soon, finds comfort in photography, which is ...more
John Clark
Jul 01, 2015 John Clark rated it it was amazing
Your clothes are hand-me-downs from your cousin and make you look odd when you go to school. Your father was killed in Vietnam and you've been told he was a hero. After he dies, you and your mother move from familiar Pittsburgh to Jackson, Mississippi where Mom will teach at a small college.
This is our introduction to fourteen year old Sam. She tries to fit in at her new school, but it isn't long before she starts to realize that things in Jackson aren't anything like what she was used to in P
I really liked this book. It was very different from other historical fiction I've read, but different in a good way.
The year after my father died, my mother took a job teaching at a small college in Jackson, Mississippi.
The Berlin Boxing Club
Out of My Mind
The Fault in Our Stars
The Taming of the Shrew
The Help
...YOU MIGHT LIKE Sources of Light.
Kate Brown
Jul 08, 2015 Kate Brown rated it liked it
Shelves: school
"Sources of Light" is an historical fiction book which takes place in Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement in 1962. Samantha aka "Sam" is a fourteen-year-old girl living with her professor mother after her father is killed in the Vietnam War. Sam and her mother have a black maid, Willie Mae who helps with the chores around their house. When Sam starts school she begins to witness the horrific racist acts against black people. She witnesses first hand the segregation between blac ...more
May 13, 2015 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historic
I picked up this book thinking it would be a light read, and being the historical fiction reader I am it wouldn't hurt to read about the early 60s, right? This book totally opened my eyes to the prejudice and hatred for African Americans just 53 years ago. I think many people like to cover things up in this country, and pretend it never happened. We have done amazing things and terrible things, like almost every nation has. I wish we would acknowledge the African Americans whose lives were const ...more
Kristal Cooper
Feb 19, 2015 Kristal Cooper rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
Samantha is a 13-year-old with her first camera in 1962 Jackson, MS. You just have to know a little bit about American history to imagine what she experiences in life and through the lens.

The author uses a narrative style that's rough-around-the-edges and feels very authentic. She also addresses the social and political upheaval of the time in a way that a bright teen would see it. Two very enthusiastic thumbs-up from me, there.

I have to say that I would never have found this book on my own an
Mrs. Cubby Culbertson
May 27, 2012 Mrs. Cubby Culbertson rated it really liked it

Almost abandoned this one. But when it gripped, it gripped! So many informational books to tie into! I think I see a book display in our future to promote the book as a SCJBA & to promote this time in our history.
Emma B
Dec 06, 2015 Emma B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main protagonist, Samantha Thomas,is a 14 year old girl who has just moved to Jackson, Mississippi with her mother after her father died in the Korean War. Her mother meets a man named Perry Walker who takes photographs for a living. He teaches her about taking pictures and a few months later Perry gets killed by a group of people who are against black rights. I think that this book speaks to certain people about how the world was before everyone had rights. Samantha must live through the dr ...more
Mar 10, 2016 Dolores rated it it was amazing
McMullan returns to Mississippi and her roots in this book set in 1962. Sam and her mother have just moved to Jackson from up north and it is a hotbed of racial tension. A friend of her mother gives her a camera, and Sam uses it to view the chaos around her through it. We get to view it filtered through Sam's eyes. I thought the most interesting character was Stone, caught between his family and his own conscience, and desperately trying to find his way. This was a very interesting and balanced ...more
Jun 25, 2015 Janet rated it it was amazing
Wonderful story from the viewpoint of a young girl as she works through the horrors of Mississippi in the 1960's. Race relations create anger and even death. A simple stop at a store creates havoc as a group of black college students aim to sit at the lunch counter - the white lunch counter. The horrors of the Vietnam War also fill the pages. What friends do you chose? How is true love experienced? This fascinating book is for a book club. It would be a great choice for any other book clubs sear ...more
Int'l librarian
McMullan can make me feel warm and fuzzy, and then furious, all in a matter of a few pages. It may be hard to appreciate the level of racial hatred and fear in the US during the 1960s. But McMullan’s dialogue and description do well to personalize this shameful chapter of US history.

14-year-old Sam and her mom are transplants from the North, struggling against the firmly rooted traditions of Mississippi family privilege and caste. The struggle plays out in parlors and dining rooms – Christmas wi
May 11, 2011 Laurie rated it it was amazing
This is a juvenile fiction book. I'll confess I just did a quick skim of the flyleaf and thought I had picked up a book about a young girl interested in photography. What I got was an intense, potent narrative of life during the racial strife in Mississippi during the early 60's.

Samantha is 14 years old, living with her mother in Jackson, Mississippi. Her father died a hero in Vietnam and having no relations on her mother's side, they have moved to be near her father's family. Her mother is a pr
Dec 23, 2010 Donna rated it liked it
This one almost ended up being a DNF but, literally, right at the middle page of the book, a plot element caught my eye that made me want to keep pushing through. Now, I can't remember what that element was. I can say it was a piece of action in an otherwise rather inactive story. It was a catalyst enough to keep me turning the pages.

But unfortunately I didn't have any kind of "OMG I'm so glad I kept reading!" revelations. The story was okay and I liked the writing enough but I don't think it po
Sori Fant
May 15, 2012 Sori Fant rated it liked it
Rated 1 - 10

Quality of Writing:

Descriptions: 7 - Most of the descriptions were good but I wish that the descriptions of how she learned to take pictures and how the pictures were developed were better described. I’ve read other books that describe it better and taking pictures weren’t even the main focus of them.
Words: 5
Dialogue: 5
Pace: 4
Ease of Reading: 10
Enjoyability: 5 - How it is written makes it feel very unemotional which I actually think is pretty cool in some books. You don’t feel overw
Feb 05, 2011 Ryan rated it liked it
Certainly quite readable and an interesting perspective on the south during the early 60's. The author did a good job presenting the dual nature of - well, of all of us but of the people in Sam's world of Jackson, Mississippi in the early 60's. How can someone who appears so kind, generous and likable be so filled with hate that they would beat someone to death simply for the color of their skin? We see it everyday, even in our "enlightened" times - the inconsistency baffles me. I can see that t ...more
Maureen Milton
I picked this up because a friend had read & liked it and because it would augment the senior civil rights curriculum. While the writing is plain and direct, the story of 14-year-old Samantha and her mother who move to Jackson, Mississippi after her father's death in Vietnam in 1962 is engaging, if a bit flawed.

Sam's mother is a college art history professor whose professional dress & work set her & her daughter apart from the neighboring matching mother-daughter sets of belles. Alth
Apr 03, 2011 Terrie rated it it was amazing
It has been a while since a book has moved me as much as this one did. Fourteen-year-old Sam (short for Samantha) has already experienced tragedy. Her father died a hero in Vietnam. A year later, the summer of 1962, she and her mother moved to Jackson, Mississippi to be closer to her father’s family. She states, “The summer before I learned about love and hate all in the same year. The summer before it all happened.” Racial tensions are at its peak in the south. Sam’s mother, a professor of art ...more
Feb 01, 2010 Nicole rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: older-middle grade or younger-YA
I was less than impressed with the first half of this book. It felt like a revamping of an old Judy Blume novel with "Gee, I wish I could wear a bra" and "He was so dreamy". But as the race relations (or really, race tensions) entered into the picture, I became more and more engaged. As Sam developed an awareness of the world around her, I developed an awareness of her as a character. Because, frankly, until she grew a social consciousness, Sam was pretty darn boring.

Nuts and bolts:
I found the
Aug 23, 2012 Tina rated it really liked it
Mississippi, 1962. Samantha & her mother have moved to Jackson, MS - during some of the worst times for civil unrest. The civil rights movement is at one of its highest points in many events were happening. Sam's father died a hero in the Vietnam War and they were trying to get closer to his family. Sam's mother is a professor at the college, she meets Perry, a photographer who introduces Sam to the art and gives her one of his old cameras. Sam discovers that she is able to los ...more
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Review 1 9 Mar 29, 2010 12:12PM  
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“Seems like nothing's getting safer or better," I said. "Seems like everything's getting worse."
"Maybe that's what's gotta happen," Willa Mae said.
"Maybe everything's gotta break lose and fall apart before we can put it back together again right.”
“Why did you marry Dad, Mom?"
My mother sniffled through her nose, looked at me, then smiled.
"I wanted something more and he was it. We both had big dreams."
"That must have taken a lot of courage," I said. "To marry Dad. He was so different from you."
"It was hardly courageous. It was just the only thing to do. We were in love.”
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