My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book tells the compelling (and appalling) story of Prince Edward County, Virginia, which shuttered its public schools in the 1950s, rather than integrating them. I think this book was especially good, given the context of what America is facing right now in terms of race. Much of the commentary in the 1950s are things I still hear today via social media. It's amazing how little has changed with relation to race in America in 65 years.
I spent 2 years at Longwood College which is in Farmville, VA so this book was particularly interesting to me as someone who spent quite a bit of time in Prince Edward County in the early 1990s. The references to what was happening in Richmond (where I'm from) during this time were also fascinating. It makes me sad to know that the place that I come from, a place that I love, was the epicenter of so much hatred and bigotry.
The level of hatred and ignorance explored in this book really is appalling. But, I think Kristen Green does a great job of exploring those things while acknowledging the positive things in this community. It's a dichotomy that I struggle with on a daily basis. My beliefs are VERY different from much of my southern family and it can be difficult to love someone who is so full of hate for anyone different from them. I found Green's book to be helpful in terms of putting some of that in perspective for myself.
Green does a compelling job of weaving history and memoir in this book. It reads like a novel - so easy and effortless yet extremely thought-provoking.
Another reviewer (Elizabeth Hall Magill) put together such an eloquent review that I thought I'd share just a snippet that really sums up my own feelings about this book.
For her history is our collective history—and acknowledging that at this historical moment, as black churches burn throughout the South and we continue to speak about racism as if it is both debatable and long gone, is a vital step in our journey toward a future that doesn't repeat our past.
This is a book that everyone should read ... to help open our eyes to the fact that racism is still strong all these years after the civil rights movement and to help us try to understand how we can learn from the past and try to do (MUCH) better in the future!
I highly recommend this book to any and all - it's a powerful book that will give you a great deal to think about ...