Cara Lee's Reviews > Crow

Crow by Barbara   Wright
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Sep 03, 12

Read in August, 2012

Although this book is marketed as middle-grade fiction, it has a depth and complexity that I believe will appeal to sophisticated readers in all age groups. Filtering the story of the little-known Wilmington Massacre and the events leading up to it through the eyes of a boy of eleven-going-on-twelve was an inspired choice. Moses learns about racism in a similar way to that in which a younger child discovers there is no Santa Claus, only it's a much ruder awakening. To feel the confusion of a boy who can't participate in a writing contest because even though he's the right age "there could be other restrictions," or who can't understand why he and his father have to sit in the dirty car at the back of the train, is to be reminded of the irrational nature of prejudice in all its forms.

Tensions in Moses' town rise during an election season, as the white community spreads rumors that the black community is plotting to take their women, their jobs, and their political power. Their only evidence is the willingness of a few educated black men to exercise their rights to free speech and participate in the local government and economy. Irrational fear spirals into violence. The people the mob wants to drive out of town are not the poorly educated or the criminal, as they claim, but the most highly educated and respected men in the African-American community.

I was struck by the timely implications of this story as our country today navigates a contentious political season in which, for better or worse, race has taken center stage. I felt a chill at reading how quickly a nervous coexistence can explode into us-versus-them violence. But I was grateful that author Barbara Wright pulled this forgotten historical event out from under the rug so that we could learn from it. I was even more grateful that her choice of a child's-eye view allowed me to witness the human capacity for growth. In the end, I felt hope. This is an important story that deserves a wide audience.
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