Eleanor's Reviews > The Lions of Little Rock

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
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's review
Jul 10, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, ya
Read from July 10 to 13, 2012

I don't care who you are, drop what you're doing and read this book. Right now. I know the cover is terrible, but I promise you won't regret it. I believe you won't be able to put it down. I certainly couldn't.

Kristin Levine's sophomore novel is absolutely divine. Beautifully written, with a rich story that covers several topics that are in no way dated, although the story takes place in 1958. While most people know about Little Rock, Arkansas and what took place in 1957 (the integration of the schools, and the Federal Government having to intervene to ensure that they did so) and the nine African Americans who quite literally risked their lives to get an education.

What most people don't know about is what happened the year after the schools integrated, and how much more of a struggle it was to get the schools to cooperate. How four high schools closed, forcing hundreds of teens to move across the state to get an education. How movements started, slowly at first, to reopen the schools. How people who had been quiet for so long finally started speaking up about how horrified they were at the decisions their home state was making.

That history becomes part of this fictional story of a young girl named Marlee, who befriends a Liz, a girl who turns out to be African American. It is a big deal for both girls, and also incredibly dangerous during this tumultuous time. But they risk everything to keep seeing each other in secret, and continue to open up to each other about what's happening in their town and what it means. But when the truth gets out, the danger escalates and their friendship is deemed too much by both of their families. Do the girls believe that, too? After all of the hurt and destruction, can they find a way to be in each others' lives?

This is a wonderful work of historical fiction about racism, friendship, bravery, and the importance of acting on what you believe in, whether or not anyone stands behind you.
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