Timeline: 1968 Chicago. The Civil Rights movement was well underway and the Black Panthers were rising in influence with the young blacks; not only fo...moreTimeline: 1968 Chicago. The Civil Rights movement was well underway and the Black Panthers were rising in influence with the young blacks; not only for their politics, but also for doing things for the poor like serving free breakfasts to school kids. Enter Sam, a 13 year old black boy whose father is a preacher and works with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, and whose older brother,Stick, has just joined the Panthers. Sam has always respected his father and his methods, but with the assassination of King on top of his best friend, Bucky, getting beaten and arrested by white cops for no reason, Sam begins to question him. This questioning is amplified by Stick leaving home to work and live full-time with the Panthers. Who should Sam support? The non-violent demonstrations his father organizes or the Panthers and their more violent way to get their voices heard?
This YA book gives a good insight to the struggles of the times. It looks as the variety of options African Americans in the 60s had to stop the injustices being committed against them and doesn’t just write off the Black Panthers as a footnote to the movement. Instead, it looks deeper and lets the reader join in the examination of which way is the best way. There is a fair amount of violence, but this was not a peaceful time in our history. (less)
A young, 15 year old girl named Lina is taken with her family to a slave labor camp during World War II. The men are separated from the women & ch...moreA young, 15 year old girl named Lina is taken with her family to a slave labor camp during World War II. The men are separated from the women & children and are transported in overcrowded livestock train cars where their humanity and dignity is started to be taken from them. They are forced to survive on a piece of bread a day to sustain them in hard, physical farm labor. Oh, did I mention that Lina’s imprisonment is not the work of the German Nazis, but instead of Stalin’s Soviets? Before reading this book, I had no idea that the intellectuals of the Eastern Bloc lived in as much fear as the Jews did in Germany.
Along with her mother & brother, Lina ends up north of the Arctic Circle to build a factory. She is an artist, and she records her feelings and experiences through drawing, even drawing the labor camp’s director for extra rations. She also draws on scraps to try to let her father in another prison camp know where they are and that they are still alive.
While this is officially a YA book, it is something all readers should read as is one of those rare novels that opens your eyes to atrocities in a rather matter-of-fact way. Lina tells her story plainly and starkly. The reader is allowed to realize on their own just how horrible it is for themselves.(less)
The American Revolution was a time of chaos and strife, not only for the white men & women seeking their freedom from the British, but also by the...moreThe American Revolution was a time of chaos and strife, not only for the white men & women seeking their freedom from the British, but also by their black slaves. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is the first book of a YA trilogy featuring a 13 year old slave, Isabel and her struggle for the same freedom and rights the Founding Fathers are fighting for.
Isabel and her sister Ruth are owned by Mary Finch who grants them their freedom upon her death. Unfortunately for Isabel & Ruth, the lawyer who wrote her will is gone and Miss Finch’s heirs decide to disregard her wishes and they sell them to the Locktons, a Loyalist family in New York City. Isabel is a very strong young lady who does all she can to keep her and Ruth together and search for freedom at the same time. She has to figure out who she can trust in the big city and what side she should risk her life helping. This is a very interesting look at what freedom is and who it is for. (less)
Wow - I had no idea of the very real fear of nuclear war in the early 60s. This book brings the time around the Cuban Missile Crisis to life by center...moreWow - I had no idea of the very real fear of nuclear war in the early 60s. This book brings the time around the Cuban Missile Crisis to life by centering around a family and specifically an 11 year old girl, Franny. This tension is magnified by the family conflicts and by Franny's strife-filled friendship with her "best friend" Margie.
I particularly liked the way nuclear war films and other propaganda text are woven into the story. It really enhances the way its tale is told. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone who has studied the Cuban Missile Crisis but wasn't old enough to live through it. (less)