Published By: Pocket Books
Release Date: 1994
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Source: Owned by Reviewer
I first read this memoir of Melba Pattillo Beals and her experience as a member of the Little Rock 9 for a U.S. History course in undergrad, but since that time I have reread this book countless times. Each year in the spring, I read this book to my students to help them not only with our study of the Civil Rights Movement, but also to help them understand how racism and prejudice have crippled our nation throughout various moments in our history. I also find this story particular powerful because it is told from the perspective of the teenage Melba - this allows my students to relate to who she is and her experiences a bit more. I love to hear the opinions they form about this piece of history as we progress through the novel. I can only hope that they will remember our discussions and this book as the forge their paths into adulthood.
Melba's story of integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, is not a light hearted coming of age tale. Rather it focuses on the tensions and hardships faced by African Americans in the South in the 1950's. Beals is a strong writer and she pens her story in a way that truly resonates with readers, pulling you into the story and allowing you to walk the halls of Central High with Melba and the others. Courage and bravery seep from this book. I hope that it will touch the lives of others and provide them some comfort as they deal with trying issues in their own life. I am not sure that I could have been as brave as Melba in spite of such hatred and violence.
I recommend this book to fans of memoirs and U.S. History. There is also a version for younger readers, but I have only read this particular edition.
One Last Gripe: I never liked how Melba's Dad didn't seem to be supportive of her at all.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: Grandma India's advice
First Sentence: My Grandmother India always said God has pointed a finger at our family, asking for just a bit more discipline, more praying, and more hard work because he had blessed us with good health and good brains.
In 1957, Melba Pattillo turned sixteen. That was also the year she became a warrior on the front lines of a civil rights firestorm. Following the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education, Melba was one of nine teenagers chosen to integrate Little Rock's Central High School.
Throughout her harrowing ordeal, Melba was taunted by her schoolmates and their parents, threatened by a lynch mob's rope, attacked with lighted sticks of dynamite, and injured by acid sprayed in her eyes. But through it all, she acted with dignity and courage, and refused to back down.