Genres: Historical fiction, young adult, LGBT
Publication year: 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Goodreads rating: 4.09
In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.
Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.
Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.
Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another
I saw this on a table with LGBT+ books in Waterstones the other day. The story of two girls with completely opposite stances coming together seemed to me an interesting read and I had heard good things about Robin Talley already.
Wow! This book is incredibly compelling, I read it in less than 24 hours because I couldn’t put it down. I had to know how it was going to end. It’s a tough read in the sense that it deals with integration in an honest and painfully realistic way. It takes place in 1959, Sarah and her friends are the first black kids to start at an all-white school. We hear everywhere about the discrimination of black people. This book kind of hit me in the face with reality because I never truly considered that people were treated this way and still are some places. The way the students spoke made it sound like they truly thought black people were inferior creatures, and they did. And it’s just awful that this was a normal way to think, that people were raised to hate with this passion. It’s so hard for me to believe it because the behaviour of those children was just evil, and yet I know it’s the truth. This book is so powerful, and so much more than ‘just a YA book.’ The issues dealt with are painfully real and it is such a vital read.
Sarah’s bravery and ability to stay strong when times were tough, her kindness and fierceness, absolutely incredible. Linda is a closed-minded girl who progresses so much throughout the book. She gradually comes to term with the fact that black people are in fact people, but she still has such a long way to go. She says Sarah is “not like them, she’s different” and still sees black people in general as different and not a normal person, even though she sees Sarah that way. It’s interesting reading this from her perspective (as the book switches mainly between the two) because we get to see both sides so clearly.
In summation, this book is incredibly powerful and compelling, it is a story of bravery and a fight for what is right. Please read it, I think you’ll find you won’t regret it.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments.