The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
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.
This is the selection for my book club this month, and I was able to download the audio book through my library. It was a quick listen while I worked that I really enjoyed. The added bonus was that I also learned quite a bit.
Years ago in a U.S. History class I learned about The Little Rock Nine from 1957 (although I didn't remember those brave students being given that title-I just remember them trying to integrate into a previously all-white school and the hatred and problems that ensued). I didn't know that the following school year in an effort to prevent integration all the public high schools in Little Rock were closed. It is such a sad time in history.
"Passing" was something new to me as well. The book described it as a black person with really light skin and straight hair trying to pass as being white for better education and opportunities. But, they have to give up their family and friends, and if they are discovered the consequences are severe.
Marlee was an excellent main character. Seeing her come out of her shell and become much more comfortable with speaking in front of and to others was inspiring. She made a difference and I loved how she was able to see that the color of a person's skin didn't matter. And, her journey helped others see this as well.
This was a very good book that I'd encourage my kids to read.
Title: The Lions of Little Rock
Author: Kristin Levine
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Published: January 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Kindle