Ariel Marie's Reviews > The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
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's review
Jul 21, 2012

really liked it

This was one of the books that introduced me to violence in the Civil Rights Movement. I remember reading it in elementary school and hating the idea of the book. At the time, I only cared about ancient history, the Civil War and the Holocaust. Then my class began to read this novel and I became captivated by the Watsons.

From what I remember, the novel starts in Flint, Michigan and then leads to them going to Birmingham. There's this ominous build of racism as the family learns more and more about life there all while trying to fit in. Slowly, I fell in love with all the characters. All of them fell close to my heart and I feel the need to re-read this book some point soon.

The novel focuses on a child's experience when the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing happened and he believes his sister may be dead. It was a challenge to relate to a lot of books about the Civil Rights Movement when I was younger because I just didn't understand. We always learned about MLK and all I got out of it was that my best friend wouldn't be allowed to be my friend in the 60's. It wasn't until I read this novel that everything started to make sense. Somebody blew up a church and the pieces started to fall together. The panic became real and so did the confusion.

I feel like every child should be required to read this book. It changed my views. I cannot recite the events of it other than this one scene that continues to haunt me. It involved the church bombing when the main character watches a man pull a dead girl out of the rubble. He doesn't understand what is happening or why she is still. He makes a comment that it looks like she had been playing with red paint.

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