Sunday, January 6, 2008
Fire from the Rock by Sharon M. Draper
I recommend this book for: middle and high school
It is 1957 in Little Rock, and Central High School is about to be integrated for the first time. Only a few black students will be chosen to represent their community by going to the traditionally white school, and Sylvia is one of the ones chosen. Can she go through with it? Opposition runs high among people of both races, and although she has a white friend who goes to Central, she's not sure she wants to leave all of her friends and her new boyfriend behind. As the integration date gets closer, Sylvia has to make choices about where she stands and what she is willing to suffer for integration. The historical details are appalling and fascinating: the mob of protesters, the troops that the governor called in to keep the black students out of the school, the violence and hate that you can feel as Sylvia walks through it. All of that is portrayed very well.
What I didn't like about this book was the awkward dialogue - even in conversations with people Sylvia has known for years, she fills in personal background or throws in historical details for the reader's benefit. I found it really difficult to read, although I kept reading because of the compelling story. I also was disappointed in the portrayal of the students trying to get in to the school - since Sylvia drops out, she watches it on TV instead of being in the mob, and I felt a lot of the emotional impact was drained out of the scene because of it.
A second opinion.