Thank you to Booksparks for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
This was an interesting book. I went into my reading of it assuming it was written for adults, but I think I would recommend it to middle grade students before I’d recommend it to adults. The entire story is told through the voice of Lisa, with occasional snippets from Miss Loomis. The language is very simplistic, resembling that of what you might expect from a 6th grader, especially, in my opinion, a 6th grader growing up in the late 1960s. I feel that without this nugget of information, an adult reader may end up disappointed with the book.
Overall I thought it was a very interesting way to tell the story of one girl’s experience with racism and the beginning of desegregation. While some may say that a white girl born with a cleft palate and lip isn’t an adequate analogy to racism, I think it holds a lot of potential in helping young minds to understand what it feels like to be on the receiving end of vicious and malicious behavior. I definitely think this book could also be used to open the door of conversation regarding discrimination and bullying.
My favorite part of the story was getting to witness Lisa’s personal growth throughout the book. She starts as a very timid and meek girl who is afraid to stand up for herself and hides behind obedience. By the end of the book, she has learned to accept her differences so others may not use them against her, and she finds her voice, which she uses to speak up for and defend herself and those who are important to her. It was a very inspiring transformation.
I’ll be honest and admit that this was not my favorite book, but I do believe it will appeal to the right audience. ~Amber
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