If you are a fan of historical fiction, then Crow by Barabra Wright might be a good book for you. Crow follows 12-year-old Moses Thomas, a black boy who in 1898 lives in Wilmington North Carolina. Wright’s book describes the Wilmington Race Riot, which took place 35 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and was started by white Southern Democrats, who wanted to get rid of black leaders and professionals. This book describes real events and many of the characters are based on real people.
Moses lives with his parents and Boo Nanny, his grandmother and a former slave. His father, Jackson, who has been a free man all of his life, is one of the town’s Aldermen and works at the largest black newspaper in the south. Moses’s mother, Sadie, works for a white family in town, taking care of their children. Boo Nanny does the laundry for people on Moses’s street while also making healing potions for those who need them. Moses spends most of his time with his friend Lewis or at school, which his father is adamant he attend. Moses has experienced isolated instances of racism in his life, but when the violence begins and the black printing press is destroyed, he is not prepared and his life is never the same.
One of the biggest personal conflicts in the book is between Jackson and Boo Nanny. Moses’s father and grandfather were free men who also had good educations and went to college. Boo Nanny, however, had a very hard and traumatizing time being a slave, and when Moses asks about it, she refuses to answer. Because it was illegal for slaves to learn how to read or write, she is illiterate. Due to his experiences, Jackson isn’t much of a realist and constantly tells Moses that as long as he is respected and can give a firm handshake he will be fine. Jackson is also mainly book-smart and understands what has been in a book, but might not understand what is right in front of him. The conflict between Jackson and Boo Nanny becomes more important when the editor of the black newspaper responds to a white woman’s opinion article in a white newspaper, which happens before the riot. While Boo Nanny is definitely superstitious, she is also very much a realist, so when Moses tells her about the conflict going on in the town, she immediately knows there is going to be trouble while Jackson is slow to understand.
Stumbling over some of the words, I read: “Every Negro lynched is called a big, burly black brute, when in fact many of those who have thus been dealt with had white men for their fathers and were not only not black and burly but were suffieciently attractive for white girls of culture and refinement to fall in love with them.” Rocking in her chair, Boo Nanny murmured, “That ain’t gone sit well.” (Wright 114-115).
Because of these two different backgrounds, there is often a lot of conflict between the two characters, but eventually Jackson sees the tension in the community changing and realizes that things are not how he hoped they would be.
The entire book is a build up to the riot - the major conflict - which results in the printing press burned, many people killed on the streets, and black leaders and professionals forced out of town. This riot was an important part of history because it was the first and only time that government officials were forcibly removed from office. The riot is also where there is a real change in the relationship between Moses and his father. Moses was not prepared for the dangers he could face and when the violence starts, he comes to the realization that his father and Boo Nanny had not prepared him. Jackson had let Moses believe that they lived in a world where everything is fine and will be alright, and Boo Nanny never told Moses what violence she had experienced. Jackson even apologizes to Moses at the end of the book because he wishes he had prepared him.
“There’s a lot more ugliness out there then I’ve led you to believe, and I haven’t prepared you for it. I saw this clearly when you told me about Mr. Manly’s escape. You didn’t realize the danger you were in, and because of that, I could very well have lost you...” (Wright 202).
I enjoyed reading this book, but it definitely was hard because, based on the history of the Wilmington Race Riot, I understood that there would not be a happy ending. I think that the writing was very good and the author did a great job painting pictures of what the characters were like. Learning about the riot is important because while a lot of people don’t talk about it, it changed the population in the town to a majority being white and took away the opportunities that the black people had. In the end I would rate this book three out of five stars.
Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis, is a winner of the John Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King award. The genre of this book is historical fiction and takes place in 1936 during The Great Depression, following the main character Bud Caldwell who is 10 years old and lives in Flint, Michigan.
Bud had been living in an orphanage since his mother died, so he is used to staying with different foster families and being returned. When he is suddenly told he will being staying with a new family, he is prepared. Soon after arriving with this new family, he starts receiving abuse from them and decides to escape Flint. Everywhere Bud goes he takes his suitcase with him. Inside this suitcase are all of his belongings, which consist of a blanket, some rocks, and three flyers for a band called “Herman E. Calloway and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!” When Bud starts to believe that the man on his flyer (Herman E. Calloway) is his father, he sets out on a journey to find him. As Bud goes on this journey he has many adventures and meets people who help him along the way.
In this story, the protagonist is Bud, and the antagonist is the environment. The book is set during The Great Depression when the stock market crashed and a lot of people lost their jobs. During this time, the country was very poor, and people would travel long distances to find work. This environment is very challenging for Bud since people were not very kind to children or black people. A part of The Great Depression were Hoovervilles (named for president Herbert Hoover) which were shantytowns built by the homeless out of scrap materials. Bud visits a Hooverville in the beginning of the book when he was thinking about taking a train to Chicago to find work. “It was a bunch of huts and shacks throwed together out of pieces of boxes and wood and cloth. The Amoses’ shed would’ve looked like a real fancy house here.” Even though Bud has to face all of these difficult situations, he just continues on with a positive attitude.
The theme I will focus on in this story is perseverance. This is a theme that is shown strongly throughout the book and is a huge characteristic of Bud. Ever since Bud was little, his mother used to always tell him that when one door closes another opens, and this is what has always kept him going. Even when Bud had just run away from the family who had treated him badly and he was sleeping outside under a tree, he still thought, “But now that I’m almost grown I see Momma wasn’t talking about doors opening to let ghosts into your bed-room, she meant doors like the door at the Home closing and leading to the door at the Amoses’ opening and the door in the shed opening leading to me sleeping under a tree getting ready to open the next door.”
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because I felt like the ending of the story went by a little too fast. The story finishes at the climax, and it sort of felt like this dramatic scene just happened and then the story was over. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and to people who like reading fast paced stories.
I rate this book: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk, is a New York Times bestseller and has also won various awards such as the Newbery Honor award and the Scott O’dell award. The genre of the book is historical fiction and the recommended audience is age 10 and up. This story follows the protagonist Annabelle, who is 12 years old in the fall of 1943 (during World War II), and lives a quiet and routine life in a small town in rural Pennsylvania.
Everything is normal until the day a new girl named Betty Glengarry comes and changes Annabelle’s world. As soon as Betty moves to town, Annabelle learns that Betty is not like the other kids. One day on her way home from school, Betty stops Annabelle and threatens to hurt her. Annabelle becomes scared and confused about if whether or not she should tell someone that she's being bullied. She starts lying to her family about something being wrong. The next day when she goes back to meet Betty, someone unexpectedly comes and defends her.
The person who defends Annabelle is Toby, a veteran from World War I who lives near her family’s farm, Betty is infuriated when someone gets in her way so she begins to try and frame Toby for multiple crimes. Most people in town think that Toby is very strange since he is quiet and reclusive and they begin to become suspicious. When Annabelle is the only one who knows the truth what can she do to try and clear Toby’s name?
One of the most prominent themes in the story is person versus self. Multiple times throughout Wolf Hollow, you will see characters who have to face some sort of personal challenge and go against what they think they should do. One example of this is when Annabelle’s friend Ruth is seriously hurt in an incident. Annabelle suddenly becomes scared and wishes that everything could go back to normal, but she has to overcome this and try to save Toby who has been framed for the crime. Another example is at the end of the book when Toby has to go way outside of his comfort zone and save someone even though it could be dangerous. This is a huge challenge for Toby because he has a lot of trauma from the war, which usually makes him avoid people.
Not every story has a moral, but this book does and it is definitely that you shouldn’t judge someone because of their appearance. An example in the story of this is how everyone thinks that Betty is innocent because she looks like an innocent little girl and that Toby is dangerous because he is dirty and dressed poorly. “Annabelle, you can stand there in your nightie and make all the proclamations you want, but I don’t see what we can do. It’s out of our hands. Betty’s not going to change her story. Why should she? Everyone thinks she’s the victim. And I can’t really blame them. She looks like one. And Toby looks like a villain, whether he is or not.”
I think that people who enjoy both historical and realistic fiction will like reading this book. In my opinion the story ends feeling very complete, and I am satisfied reading it. The story is very fast paced and keeps moving until the end. I would give this book 4/5 stars and would have given it 5 stars, but for one reason: I thought that Annabelle’s character was unrealistic when it came to how she just so happened to know all the answers to the problems.
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