The story in this book — of Gillette and Raymond and Sunny — is 5 star! These three are young kids in Mississippi in the early 1960s; It’s Freedom Summer, and brave blacks and whites are working together in voter registration drives and trying to integrate the diners and movie theatres against a very long tradition of oppression and segregation. The kids are 12, 13, 14, and they are beginning to think for themselves. They’re sorting through the politics of their milieu and learning to take it all in and make their own decisions, – and to participate! It’s thrilling and scary and moving. There were times when Sunny’s personal story had me in tears.
So, why only three stars? This book is a whopping 544 pages. Too big to hold in your hand. Too big to read in bed. Full to bursting with historical material that breaks up the narrative each time the reader starts to care about the characters and the action. I love what Wiles is trying to do with the historical context. I just can’t imagine any 6th or 7th grader having the patience to stick with it if not assigned for a grade.