Rebecca's Reviews > Color Me Dark: The Diary of Nellie Lee Love, the Great Migration North

Color Me Dark by Patricia C. McKissack
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Mar 05, 10

bookshelves: diaries, arc, historical-fiction
Read in August, 2000

It is with great hesitatation that eleven-year-old Nellie Lee Love begins her new diary on New Year's Day, 1919. The diary was an unwanted Christmas present from her mother that she doubts she will use much. But Nellie grows to like writing in the diary. The entries early on describe her family's fairly idyllic life in the small town of Bradford Corners, Tennessee. Nellie's best friend is her older sister, Erma Jean, who's just ten months older than her. There's Mama and Daddy, Nellie's grandparents, Papa Till and Aunt Nessie (who live with the family), and various aunts, uncles, and cousin. Their life is much easier than that of most southern blacks because Nellie's father owns his own business, a funeral home. But soon tragedy befalls the family, when Nellie's Uncle Pace, who has just returned from the war in Europe, mysteriously dies, possibly at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. Erma Jean is with him when he dies, and something he tells her has made her mute, too disturbed to speak. Daddy decides to move the family north to Chicago, where their is more freedom and oppurtunity for black people. Nellie describes many more things, both tragic and joyous, that happen to her and her family, friends, and neighbors throughout the entire years. Her diary, although fictional, is a window to the past and describes a time period in American history I knew little about. A good read from the Dear America series, although not among my top favorites.
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