Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Whistling Past the Graveyard
by Susan Crandall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first was attracted to this book because of the comparisons to To Kill A Mockingbird  and The Help. (Marketing success!) While this book wasn't as well layered as those classics, I found that the Southern setting, the bravery of a character who is learning what the world around her is really like, and the unsettling feeling of the Civil Rights movement--all things that I love about those two books-- are present in Whistling Past the Graveyard. Although those aspects of the book weren't really what drew me in--it was the plot, surprisingly full of action.

Right from the start, the book took a direction I was not expecting. The crazy, terrifying situation that Starla finds herself in when she meets Eula was rather unexpected, and things continue to move quickly from one place to the next as the characters fall into new predicaments, with the simmering danger that comes with the Civil Rights movement influencing a lot of the action. While this part of the story moves quickly, you can sometimes catch Starla in the middle of too much exposition. Starla is a nine year old girl; like a lot of other nine year old girls, loves to talk, and has plenty of passion and personality.

While some of her ramblings seemed to go on for a bit too long, I thought that the way the author wrote her character to be overconfident, curious, loyal and very emotionally driven was well done and fitting for her age. She was funny and interesting in the way that kids are when they are learning about the world around them. It was a little hard to believe that an almost ten year old girl, growing up in the place and time she did, wouldn't know more about segregation and the way people were treated at that time--so some parts were a bit of a stretch for me. But her voice is very captivating, and a great way to experience the struggles of defining family, justice, and life.

An Advanced Reader's Edition was provided by the publisher. 

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