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Whistling Past the Graveyard

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  17,290 Ratings  ·  2,645 Reviews
Whistling past the graveyard . In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old Starla Claudelle runs away from her strict grandmother’s Mississippi home. Starla’s destination is Nashville, where her mother went to become a famous singer, abandoning Starla when she was three. Walking a lonely country road, Starla accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman traveling alone with a white ba ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Gallery Books
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Arin Because it is from the point of view of a child sex is hinted at but never explained. Some almost rape scenes but nothing more (and not to the main…moreBecause it is from the point of view of a child sex is hinted at but never explained. Some almost rape scenes but nothing more (and not to the main character). As for language "son of a bitch" is said once and thats the only foul language I remember. There is some violence but nothing extreme. I would rate the book pg13.(less)
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My daddy says that when you do somethin' to distract you from your worstest fears, it's like whistlin' past the graveyard. You know, making a racket to keep the scaredness and the ghosts away. He says that's how we get by sometimes. But it's not weak, like hidin'... It's strong. It means you're able to go on.

I absolutely adored Starla, She is such a feisty, compassionate and hot-headed little girl. She is one of my best-loved characters ever. I thought her voice was very authentic. I know a few
Mar 10, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my younger days, when I had more sass in my head than I had sense, I managed to hit a few boys, and I got walloped a few times in return. Momma always said my mouth wandered off more than it stayed home, and my jaw got more exercise than a coon hound on a huntin’ expedition. I had more than a little trouble stopping words that were better off swallowed, and I had my defiant face all practiced and rarin’ to go faster than my granddad’s John Deere tractor.

I was fixin’ to visit my momma in Nashv
Angela M
Oct 18, 2014 Angela M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Parts of this story may seem a little unrealistic but it really doesn't matter because many other truths are told in this novel:

- The ugly truth of segregation, prejudice, and what it meant to be black in the south in the 1960’s.

- The realistic depiction of a tough lesson learned by a 9 year old girl that in life things may not be as they seem and no matter how much we want something to be true, sometimes it just isn’t.

- How love and caring can take a little girl and a grown black woman back fr
Patrice Hoffman
Let's get that I absolutely LOVE this book out of the way. Whistling Past The Graveyard is a heartwarming, endearing coming of age story about a fiesty 9 year old girl who decides it's high time she flew the coop in an effort not to be sent to boarding school. It's the summer of 1963 in Cayuga Springs, the Fourth of July, and a pocket full of penny candy that puts the wheels in motion for a life-changing experience for two unsuspecting lives that intersect on an abandoned road.

Whistling Past Th
Crystal Craig

Recommended Reading

I had high hopes for this book right from the start, and I was not disappointed. What a fantastic southern novel. The title grabbed me first and then the cover art, but the best part was the written word inside. I loved reading about young Starla and her adventures. She's quite the character. I totally recommend this book.
Family is forged by either blood or the heart, or if you're lucky, both.

Nine-year-old, Starla seeks solutions for her own problems, such as a threat from a mean neighbor to have her admitted to reform school, and her grandmother's strict rules that is constantly being ignored by this red-haired feisty little girl. Life is tough enough for a kid in 1963 in the American south when her mother just abandoned her and left for Nashville to get famous without her child. Starla always believed the town
Diane S ☔
Aug 12, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Let me say that I absolutely loved little nine yr. old Starla, being raised by her overly strict grandmother was by no means fair. Felt sorry for Eula, her life, her sorrows, yet she was full of love just looking for a place to land.

The south in the sixties was a rather horrible place to be a black person, though as Eula says, They is just used to it." Still reading these books are always so hard, people were just so darn cruel. A nine year old taking off on a journey to find her mother in N
Aug 26, 2013 Yasmin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one!
Read like many stories written by white authors which are set in the South, about the 60s pre-Civil Rights Movement, and feature a black main character. So...nothing really new shared here...very predictable. Also, the storyline was too unrealistic to me...this story was set in the Deep, Dirty South/Mississippi and it was hard to believe some of Eula's (black main character) actions. Seriously she kidnaps a white baby and harbors a white runaway...yeah right in 2013 maybe but the 60s...I ain't b ...more
Ruth Turner
Oct 29, 2014 Ruth Turner rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned


Well written, easy to read, and Southern. I should have loved this book.

But I didn't, because I didn't like any of the characters and felt no connection to them. Starla, the main character and narrator, really annoyed me. I found her irritating and objectionable.

I gave up at about two thirds because I really had no interest in how the story finished.

Disappointing and implausible.

Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
This was like a bad sitcom. I thought the writing was kind of poor and the characters were screaming for better stories. Just not for me.
Nandi Crawford
Although I had been looking forward to reading this, I haven't anticipated reading this in under 24 hours. Though I found it interesting enough, I am surprised that I read it in the amount of time I did. The young plucky heroine Starla Claudelle(yep, that's her last name) is ten years old,in 1963 Mississippi, a flaming red head,and quick to run to the aid of those who are done wrong. Most times though, it's not with the approval of her grandmother, whom she calls Mamie(are you serious?)and thoug ...more
Apr 14, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won an ARC copy of this on Goodreads! Can't wait to find time and read this one.

The only problem with getting a ARC copy is that I don't have anyone to talk to the book about as soon as I've finished it. I have to wait until the release date and then wait for them to read it!

I really enjoyed the story about Starla and her journey with Eula and James. Susan Crandall was able to put me into their world and really feel like I was in the 60's. You can see things thru the eyes of a child who is so
Jul 04, 2013 Books rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my gosh…just, wow. This book was way better than I expected it would be. If you’ve read and enjoyed Kathryn Stockett’s The Help or Julie Kibler’s Calling Me Home, you definitely want to read this gem.

It starts off a little slow but picks up speed once Starla runs away from home and meets Eula, who stole a white baby. From there on out the story takes one unexpected turn after another. The only similarities between The Help and this heartrending novel are the era in which the story plays out,
Oct 18, 2014 Britany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, buddy-read
1963, deep south Mississippi, and one feisty little 9 year old girl.

Starla Claudelle is growing up with her Mamie, her daddy working on an oil rig, and her momma left to become a singer in Nashville. Starla decides she's going to run away to reunite with her momma, so that she can finally have the happily ever after of her dreams.

Along the way she meets Eula, a black woman with a white baby. Things go from tricky to downright scary, and the story for me took a grittier, darker turn than I had a
Jul 30, 2013 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must say if you haven't read Whistling Past The Graveyard by Susan Crandall, you're missing something gooood. Love me some Starla and Eula. The author brings her characters alive. Love this book. It's like eating a good meal at your granny's and then sitting out on the porch to watch the sun go down. Beautiful work.
Jennifer Lane
The Help Meets The Secret Life of Bees

...and what a glorious meeting it is. I attribute my adoration for this 1960s Southern story to its spunky, never-quit narrator Starla.

Starla is nine years old and can't seem to stay out of trouble with her grandmother Mamie, who takes care of Starla because her momma left to pursue a music career in Nashvegas and her daddy works on an oil rig.

Naturally Starla is fascinated by her departed momma, and I was furious with Mamie for hiding packages that Starla's
Mary (BookHounds)

Starla is almost 10 years old when she is put on restriction AGAIN by her grandmother, where she lives in a small town in Mississippi while her father works on an oil rig. The disappointment grows when Starla realizes that she will miss the Fourth of July parade and fireworks. Told to stay home, she sneaks off to watch them anyway. Caught by a neighbor, she is put on even more restriction and when she overhears her grandmother say she will be sent to reform school,
Amy Lignor
Jul 28, 2013 Amy Lignor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is so rare in this day and age of werewolves, vampires, serial killers, etcetera, to receive a book that’s beyond witty, highly intelligent and downright charming. There’s a reason why books become ‘classics;’ it’s because people simply can’t stop reading the book. And because of the beauty of the story, they want to pass that book along for generations to come.

This is a classic. This is the Deep South at its finest, with characters from different backgrounds joining together for a road trip
Christina  Torretta
I stayed up well into the night to finish this one. That was after I was all tucked in and comfy but just couldn't get this out of my mind. I could have read in bed but I didn't want to get drowsy, I wanted to be able to take in every detail! It was so worth it!

This starts and I really felt for Starla. Her grandmother is a bit of a pain. And boy does she have her opinions, which she thinks are truths (of course). It is about the 1960's and of course the prejudices of that time. And Susan Crandal
Book Concierge

Starla is a nine-year-old spitfire. Her Momma, left to become a famous singer when Starla was just three years old and her Daddy works on an oil rig out in the Gulf of Mexico, so Starla lives with her strict grandmother, Mamie. After being put on restriction yet again, Starla decides she’s going to go to Nashville and find her Momma. Then her Daddy can come live with them there and they’ll be a family. On the outskirts of town, she accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman driving a dilapida
Kathy Worrell  ツ
I would give this story a 4.5. I just couldn't put the book down! I am claiming this book as my favorite book of the year, so far.

I think that Susan Crandall does a great job getting right into the story; not a lot of character and scene set up.

I loved the spunky, nine year old, protagonist, Starla.

The story takes place down south in the 1960's. Starla lives with her cruel, bitter grandmother (Mamie) while her dad is away working. Her mom, Lulu left her and her father to become a famous singer
Oct 19, 2015 Kelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, teaching
I picked this book up at ALA in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. I had been hearing what an amazing book it is and couldn't wait to get started on it. If I could give this book 10 stars out of 5, I certainly would; it's that good!

The main character is Starla Jane Claudell, a white 9-year old girl, growing up in Mississippi in the 1960's. Starla has never considered the plight of any black people; the only ones she knows are maids in friend's homes. Starla's family is not rich enough to have any "
Really liked it a lot - she is a good writer and she writes like a Southerner would speak which was interesting.

Perhaps it sounds like a strange thing to say but sometimes I forget that not so long ago African-Americans were treated like sub-humans right here in this country. This book takes place in 1963 and it is just so hard to believe that just that recently American citizens virtually had no rights at all.

The story of a 9 year old white runaway and the young black woman who picks her up a
Jul 07, 2013 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Southern fiction
Recommended to Sara by: Bookpage
This book was a natural choice for me as I love Southern Coming of Age Fiction. In this day and age, I get to “sample” books for free on my Kindle; I saw an ad for this book in Bookpage. The first few “Sample” chapters of this Southern novel were compelling. I was instantly drawn to the novels protagonist, a young Mississippian girl named Starla, a gal full of gumption and sass. I saw a bit of Flavia De Luce in her (Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) both are young, strong, independent gals wit ...more
Paul Pessolano
Apr 20, 2013 Paul Pessolano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Whistling Past the Graveyard” by Susan Crandall, published by Gallery Books.

Category – Fiction/Literature Publication Date - July 2013

If you enjoyed “The Help”, if you enjoyed “Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt”, if you enjoyed “The Kitchen House”, you will enjoy “Whistling Past the Graveyard”.

This is a story that is woven around the tumultuous times in the South during the 1960’s. A story about a young girl and her coming of age while struggling with her home life and racial prejudices. Starla Claudell
I must love these coming of age books. I also like books set during the 60s (not the flower power books, the civil rights ones). I've never read Susan Crandall, but I had to take a chance on the description. I'm glad I did.

Starla is a near perfect narrator. She's a little girl, with a voice not too precious, with exactly the right amount of sass, courage and conviction. She's not too stupid either - she makes mistakes, but she pays for it and also learns. There aren't too many wrapped up in nea
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
When nine year-old Starla Claudelle impulsively runs away from her Mississippi home during the summer of 1963, she is fed up with living with her strict grandmother. Starla's father works on oil rigs. And her mother moved to Nashville six years ago. No one has told Starla that her parents are divorced, and she has fanciful notions they will reunite. When Starla accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman who is in possession of a newborn white baby, many misadventures are set into motion.

And that is
Sep 22, 2013 Marcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
I'm not usually one to like books that are predictable but I thought this one was so well written that I was able to look past my pet peeve. It reminded me a lot of other books like The Secret Life of Bees and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt only I thought this one was much better. If only there had been more little girls like Starla in the South during those dark times in the 60s, thing might have turned around a bit faster than they did.

Favorite Quotes:

Whistling past the graveyard, that's what daddy c
This wonderfully written book takes place in Mississippi in the early ‘60s. The narrator is nine-year-old Starla Claudelle who lives with her strict grandmother. This fiesty little redhead gets in her fair share of trouble and one days decides she is going to run away and try to find her mother, who is supposedly a singer in Nashville. Along the way she is picked up by a black woman named Eula who has kidnapped a white baby. This sounds like it has all the makings of a comedy, but it is far from ...more
Wendy Wax
Feb 11, 2013 Wendy Wax rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-novels
I loved this novel set in 1963 Mississippi! I especially loved Starla, Crandall's nine year old protagonist. I fell in love with her on the first page and was still thinking about her long after I'd finished reading her wonderful and heartfelt journey.
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Unlike so many writers, Susan Crandall did not emerge from the womb with a pen and paper in hand and a fully formed story in her mind. Instead, she was born with an incredible love for books. This must be genetic, because her father and now her son, both hated school, but are somehow addicted to books.

For much of her young life, even those exhausting years when her children were young and Susan
More about Susan Crandall...

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“My daddy says that when you do somethin' to distract you from your worstest fears, it's like whistlin' past the graveyard. You know, making a racket to keep the scaredness and the ghosts away. He says that's how we get by sometimes. But it's not weak, like hidin''s strong. It means you're able to go on.” 30 likes
“My daddy always said being brave wasn’t not being scared. Being brave was keeping going when you were.” 27 likes
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