Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

Every kid wants to run away at some point in their life. Whether its because of a bad grade or because of a painful death, we all thought about getting out on our own and doing things our way. But what would happen if we really did it? There are plenty of authors and directors that have shown us what they think would happen, but Susan Crandall's version is by far my favorite.

In Whistling Past the Graveyard, we follow nine-year-old Starla on her big adventure to find her mother in Nashville in 1963. While reading stories about segregation in the United States was a huge part of our curriculum in school, I have never been interested in history and have never had the desire to read about something horrible in our past for pleasure. This book was another book I chose just for the cover, but this was an extremely pleasant surprise.

There were two main things I liked about this story. I really enjoyed how Crandall wrote it using the language Starla and the other characters would have actually used. Though the liberal use of the non-word 'ain't' might make English teachers everywhere cringe, I felt that it really helped me get into the setting of the book. It also helped me remember that it was in Starla's perspective, as she would talk about how her teachers would correct her.

This story being written from Starla's perspective was the other thing that made this book really great. Crandall didn't need to rely on huge plot twists or having too many story lines; by showing the plot from the point of view of a child, she was able to create these plot twists simply by revelations of repressed memories. The story was able to flow quite nicely and keep me drawn in.

Another benefit of seeing things from Starla's perspective was that her innocence in this time period showed me how things were able to continue. Though she didn't care about skin color or understand why it would make one person worth less than another, she knew that society had these rules and she was expected to follow them. I always wondered how hatred grew in small children, but I realize now that it wasn't hatred. It was simply children doing what they did best: copying the things they saw their parents do.

When reviewing books, I always try to give you the most honest review by sharing both the good and bad parts. Whistling Past the Graveyard was a great book, and I had a difficult time thinking about anything I would change about it. There was one character that I would have liked to know more about, but I'd rather not spoil the book for any of you.

This was pretty different than anything I've read recently, though I'm definitely not complaining. This book was a great read, even though I had no idea what to expect when I started reading. In my opinion, any book that can teach a teacher something is a book that everyone should read. I highly recommend Whistling Past the Graveyard to everyone.

For more information, please visit the official website of Susan Crandall at http://www.susancrandall.net/.

Whistling Past the Graveyard is available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your favorite retailer.