Friday, January 12, 2018

March Forward, Girl by Melba Pattillo Beals

book cover
March Forward, Girl
by Melba Pattillo Beals

ISBN-13: 9781328882127
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Released: Jan. 2, 2018

Source: ARC review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
From the legendary civil rights activist and author of the million-copy selling Warriors Don't Cry comes an ardent and profound childhood memoir of growing up while facing adversity in the Jim Crow South.

Long before she was one of the Little Rock Nine, Melba Pattillo Beals was a warrior. Frustrated by the laws that kept African-Americans separate but very much unequal to whites, she had questions. Why couldn’t she drink from a "whites only" fountain? Why couldn’t she feel safe beyond home—or even within the walls of church? Adults all told her: Hold your tongue. Be patient. Know your place. But Beals had the heart of a fighter—and the knowledge that her true place was a free one.

Combined with emotive drawings and photos, this memoir paints a vivid picture of Beals’ powerful early journey on the road to becoming a champion for equal rights, an acclaimed journalist, a best-selling author, and the recipient of this country’s highest recognition, the Congressional Gold Medal

My Review:
March Forward, Girl is a memoir about Melba Pattillo Beals' childhood and is intended for readers age 10 and up. She talked about growing up in the 1940s and 1950s under heavy segregation laws and the threat of Ku Klux Klan violence against blacks who didn't submit. She mainly remembers the fear and humiliations and recounts some of her worst memories. She also talked about a few encounters with kind whites and a brief visit to St. Louis, where things were so different that she didn't want to leave. The book ended with her being chosen to attend the previously all-white high school in Little Rock as one of the Little Rock Nine. The brief epilogue summarized the year she spent in that school.

She writes from her viewpoint as a child, so we only get hints of the a wider context of what was going on. A young reader might be left with the belief that the author's childhood impressions and worst memories represent what daily life was like for all Southern blacks. While it's good for people to learn what Melba feared and endured, I would have liked a little more wider context. Her memoir only very briefly explained why things got that way, how things were changing, and that life was different in other areas.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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