Kathy's Reviews > Witness

Witness by Karen Hesse
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's review
Nov 26, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, childrens, historical-fiction, poetry
Read in May, 2007

Witness is a novel told in poetry form. The setting is a rural Vermont town in 1924. The Ku Klux Klan has moved into town. Soon the once peaceful town is disrupted by hate and violence. Told from the points-of-views of a myriad of characters, Witness is a poignant story of prejudice and those who fight against it.

Reaction: In the beginning of the book, Hesse uses old photographs to introduce the cast of characters. She gives us their names, ages, and occupations. From that point on the story unfolds from the different perspectives of these characters. I really loved this book and thought that it conveyed a rich and emotional story in a succinct way. Also, Hesse’s characters are not one-dimensional. She manages to create complex personalities and motivations within the limits of writing in poem form. It was also interesting to read a story involving the KKK in Vermont. I don’t tend to think of the North when I think of the KKK, so this was illuminating for me historically as well. I think that this would be an excellent book to use in a history or English class. Hesse does a wonderful job of exploring this topic in a moving and engaging story.

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