Sunday, August 05, 2007

can you hear me now, sisbaby?

Digging in my heels and dragging my feet (now, there's a mix of cliches) we Taureans can be a wee bit obstinate and loud about things we are not so thrilled with doing (and construct our sentences poorly, as well, apparently.) Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe is not a bad book, really. Actually, it's quite good.
It was a book i had to read because i'm on a committee considering it as part of a program that my library system is doing. I don't really consider it appropriate for the program and feel resentful of reading the book in the first place (there were a few other things i was annoyed with but they're really not relevant, so they will remain unmentioned...) It is a young adult novel. It's written as a young adult novel, and it reads like a young adult novel. It's also a message novel, with a lesson to teach, Crowe says that:
"the idea of writing Mississippi Trial, 1955 originally came to me because, I was concerned that despite its significance as one of the triggers of the Civil Rights movement, the Emmett Till case is still essentially overlooked in history books and classes. It's been a difficult story to study and retell, but it's a story that must be known by all Americans young and old."
I feel like i got the message. Loud and Clear, thank you very much. Reading this reminded me of all those things i had to read in Junior High (and then be tested on, or report on, or write on~hmmm...) I hate feeling like i have to do something.
The book focuses on the true story of the abduction and murder of Emmett (BoBo) Till, a fourteen-year-old black boy from Chicago in 1955 Mississippi and the subsequent trial of his accused murderers. It is told from the perspective of Hirum Hillburn, a fictional sixteen-year-old white boy who is visiting his grandfather in Greenwood, Mississippi, the town where he'd been raised but had left to move to Tempe, Arizona seven years earlier. Hirum has retained an idealized picture of his hometown and hadn't recognized the southern currents of racial hostility as a younger child.
When the abduction takes place Hirum has reason to believe his childhood friend R.C. is involved, and is subpoenaed to testify at the trial. The narrative seems just a little forced, and the plot seems to take a while to get started; but the short book does become more of a page-turner as it goes on. Hirum seems more naive than necessary and slow to catch on to some of the more predictable details (especially the biggest one, which i felt could have gone unstated and still remained clear...) But this novel does an excellent job of portraying a place, time, and pervasive environment that is perhaps difficult for some of us to understand today. It is an important story to be told.
Perhaps the fact that i was unable to sleep and had a terrible stomach flu at the time i was reading it affected my judgement slightly. Perhaps i didn't give it such a fair shake~like i said, though~it was a good young adult novel~worth reading on that level. Would make a great requirement for Junior High School (not for a public library program...~and notice how i make sure what comes around goes around?)
*and all the descriptions of Hirum's gramma's and Ruthanne's cooking made me crave my own gramma's, oh so wonderful, cooking (though she wasn't southern, she was an incredible cook~mashed potatoes and fried chicken especially...) Why must i always be nauseated and hungry at the same time? Terrible, terrible combination. And why do these books on such serious subjects always make me hungry? (perhaps to remind ourselves that we are still alive and well?)

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