Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, we're stepping back in time to the year 1968. What's the significance? Aside from the war waging on the other side of the world, lives were being torn apart on our very soil after two highly publicized assassinations. WARNING...what you are about to read will be hard at times, but it's a part of history, something to be learned from, not forgotten. Ready or not, fair readers, let's turn our attention to today's book of choice...
Leah Harper Brown
About the book...
The time is 1968. The place is Montgomery, Alabama. The story is one of resilience in the face of discrimination and bullying. Using the racially charged word "Negro," two Caucasian boys repeatedly bully Miss Annie Loomis--the first African-American teacher at the all-white Wyatt Elementary School. At the same time, using the hateful word “harelip,” the boys repeatedly bully Miss Loomis’s eleven-year-old Caucasian student, Lisa Parker, who was born with cleft palate and cleft lip. Who will best the bullies? Only Lisa’s mood ring knows for sure.
Short and decidedly not sweet due to the subject matter covered, but oh so telling of an age not so far in our past to be considered ancient history.
Lisa is your average eleven year-old, just trying to figure out life and get through the daily struggle that it currently is. What struggles could a little girl have? More than you might think, considering the times she lives in and especially when we take into account her own secret, which is decidedly bigger than whom she simply has a crush on. Grant it, her hidden truth shouldn't matter, after all, it's more an omission than a secret, and it doesn't define her, but let's face it...people can be cruel and sadly, she is surrounded by them both at home and school.
Now, Mr. Parker (her father) is a good man, always teaching Lisa by his side not by his hand, and it's obvious she gets her sense of truth and justice from him. Her mother? Not so much...in fact, if I had her within ear's reach, she'd get a piece of my mind! Then we have Miss Annie Loomis, a breath of fresh air in these stagnant parts, no matter how much she wishes to be anywhere but where she is. The struggles they will face, the ignorance they will have to combat, the similarities of their tails even before they were acquainted, will astound, while the lessons to be learned reverberate long after the final page turn.
Overall, the author does a wonderful job of reminding us that while, yes, everyone can be a victim of bullying for whatever reason, it's up to ALL OF US to stop it in its tracks, whether we're one of many or a voice of one. WORD TO THE WISE...the book is written the way that it is (antagonistic, and straight forward) to reflect the times, the thinking, and small mindedness, but boy can it be hard to read! It had me seeing daggers and my heart clenching at the ignorance, while wanting to whisk Lisa and friends away from it all. ...and that's before I even knew that the author was writing from her own experiences to some degree! I know I'll be remembering the brave deeds of little Lisa for many moons to come, and hoping against hope that other readers will be touched similarly.
About the author...
Leah Harper Bowron is a lawyer and James Joyce scholar. Her article “Coming of Age in Alabama: Ex parte Devine Abolishes the Tender Years Presumption” was published in the Alabama Law Review. She recently lectured on Joyce’s novel Ulysses at the University of London and the Universite de Reims. She lives in Texas and has a daughter named Sarah and a cat named Jamie.
Special thanks to Paxton at PR by the Book for the ARC for review. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, or those promotions on the horizon, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title just celebrated its book birthday July 11, 2017 via Sparkpress, so be on the lookout for it on bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!