Oh.. imagine being in the mind of an African-American girl growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas in the 40’s and 50’s. This is the story of Melba and how she was taught to live her life, even as inwardly she railed against it. Segregation was a horrible thing. The fear, the anger, the shame and the outrage. It was a hard time of living.
I have to admit, the events of this book are so outside my paradigm of experience and even as I read the book and experienced Melba’s life through her eyes, a part of me didn’t really believe what I was reading. Could people truly be so mean? So unthinking?
Then I had to ask myself this question: Would I want my 12 year to read this book? It’s geared for middle school… but would I truly want him to read it? He’s a sensitive minded lad who has been raised to realize there are horrors and bad things in the world, but do I really want him reading about it now? And honestly I don’t know. Melba paints a very real picture of what life was like for her and her people. The needing to give way, the living in fear, as well as the sheer joy that comes from living with family and having people who genuinely care about your life. AND oh..there was joy in the midst of it all. The mixture of the joy with the anger providing good juxstopotion that made it all so much more real.
I want to tell you how the book ends, but that’s not my role here. My role is to tell you what I thought abour March Forward Girl. It was a good book, a needful book to read, and I enjoyed watching Melba mature in her ability to think and DO in her fight against the injustices in her life and in the lives of the people around her.
I still am not sure about sharing it with my middle schooler, though I might read it with him, that would be a good thing I think. I think it would be could talk about the things we read together.
Scattered throughout the book are black and white images from Melba, her family, and the events of the day.
|March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine.
Melba Pattilo Beals
Frank Morrison, Illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books
Autobiography, history, America, African-American
Reviewed for: Raincoast Books.
Where Can You Find it?
Amazon.ca: March Forward, Girl.
Amazon.com: March Forward, Girl.