There is a reason this book was the first runner up for Global Read Aloud 2013 – what an incredible read. Based on actual events in 1958 in Little Rock, Arkansas, this book provides an amazing platform to open up the segregation discussion at an elementary level and the story is intense. Staying true to history means there is harsh language as well as action, but I think it would be odd if there wasn’t.
Even though this book centers on the friendship between Liz and Marlee, the rest of the characters are just as interesting as well as how they develop through the book. I read it in one day just so I could see what happened and I see now why so many of the students loved the book this year.
Bottom line: A masterful book that touches on delicate issues in an engaging way, this is not just for girls and very appropriate for 5th graders and up.
Two girls separated by race form an unbreakable bond during the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools in 1958
Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn’t have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear – speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family.
But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn’t matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families