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3.35  ·  Rating details ·  82 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Thulani Davis's 1959 is a powerful, poignant coming-of-age novel that captures a dramatic moment in American history as clearly as a photograph. It's the summer of 1959 and Willie Tarrant of Turner, Virginia, is twelve. Her father and other adults in the town are worried about integration -- how it will affect their children's safety and the quality of their education -- b ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 27th 2001 by Grove Press (first published February 1st 1992)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
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Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa
Well, this was an eye-opener!

Set in Turner, Virginia (USA) in 1959 and 1960, this tale is told through the eyes of Willie, a black girl, the 12 year old daughter of one of the town's teachers.

The town operates an unwritten apartheid, almost as bad as anything that South Africa could boast. Moves are afoot to 'integrate' the 'black' and 'white' schools, but very little comes of this except the installation of three white observers in Willie's class-room, one of whom is probably a Ku Klux Klan sym
Ivy Pittman
Remember reading this book in the 80's after meeting Thulani Davis at a book party, where the late Gregory Hines and Avery Brooks were guests as well. Loved the story! ...more
Courtney H.
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it
I was not surprised to learn, after I finished the novel, that Davis is a playwright. Her story is one of place, community, and time: specifically it is the story of Turner, Virginia, in 1959 (and immediately thereafter), as a middle-class Black community engages with the civil rights movement--in various ways leading and being pulled along by the multiple strands of dissent and protest that made up the movement. In this, she succeeded; there are several scenes that will stay with me for a very ...more
Oct 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dana by: Adam Bradley
A somewhat strange text - one that leaves you with an unsettling feeling through most of it. Tragedies spring out of nowhere, much as I would imagine a 12 year old would view them. And triumphs are conducted with such grace and emotion, as if you could be in the very room in which the author is sitting. By the end I realized there was so much I hadn't known, so much I still do not understand about those years, and they are not even too long ago. And I also had a great conviction of the power of ...more
Sha-shonda Porter
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it
I found this book when searching for fiction narratives that covers the Civil Rights Movement era. This novel explores the era from the perspective of a 12-year old, African American female. In many ways, this is a coming-of-age story that is deeply influenced by the social/racial discord of the era. Davis explores many of the issues relevant to the movement including segregation/integration, economy, education, voting rights, history, and class. I will likely use this text in the course I am de ...more
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it
This book felt like it was intended to give you a close-up view of history through the eyes of an adolescent girl. The history was interesting, but there wasn't much plot. ...more
Jonathan Williamson
1959 is nowhere near as good as 1984.
Melissa Berninger
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
A good book for the remedial course I'm teaching, which focuses on the theme of Civil Rights, but not, ultimately, a very good novel. I wouldn't recommend it except for its subject matter. ...more
Heather Carpenter
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Would like to read more from Thulani Davis. Book draws you into 1959...
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