Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
In Birmingham, Alabama in 1958, the year after the Little Rock Nine attended their first year at the white high school, the schools went on strike rather than integrate by federal order. This is the fictional account of one family whose older daughter is sent away to school in another town, and the younger daughter who stays behind to attend middle school and becomes friends with a girl who, it turns out, is passing for white. The girls know they’re in trouble but don’t realize they’re in danger until the situation escalates.
I was going to wait until after my book group met to post my thoughts, but it’s been postponed so here we are. (We also read What Was the March on Washington and Josephine: the Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker.) I really loved this book. I think what I liked best was that they became friends because they both loved math. I was right with them when their parents all insisted they had to stop seeing each other, but they needed each other too much. The way that Liz encouraged Marlee to overcome her shyness, and eventually stand up to the girl who had formerly been one of her only friends, but was really just a bully was particularly touching. I was just so rooting for these two to stay friends but wanted to see how it would unfold. The story touches on lots of different issues, including a little bit about liking boys (especially Marlee’s older sister) and sibling relationships (the sisters and their older brother are very close) as well as historical events, explained in a very easy-to-understand way.