Monday 29 July 2013

Review ~ Whistling Past the GraveYard by Susan Crandall

Whistling Past the Graveyard
Published by Gallery Books
July 2013

In the summer of 1963, Starla Claudelle is just your average nine year old, but being separated from her teenage mother and brought up by her strict grandmother, Mamie, means that Starla is always hankering after ‘what might have been’.  When Starla misbehaves and sneaks out to watch a Fourth of July parade, Mamie, terrified that Starla will go the way of her mother, threatens her with reform school. But Starla isn’t prepared to take chances and runs away from home where she meets Eula, a black woman travelling on the road with a white baby.

What then follows is an interesting coming of age story which encapsulates the sullen heat of the Mississippi and the overriding turbulence of a country in the grip of racial and civil unrest. The instability of the Civil Rights movement and the growing dissatisfaction seen through the eyes of nine year old Starla makes for fascinating reading. In many respects the book is very easy to read, Starla is a feisty and gutsy heroine, and yet, it is her smart and out spoken sassiness, which so reminded me of Scout in To kill a Mocking Bird, where the heart and soul of the story lies. Nicely written, poignant and thought provoking with occasional flashes of humour, the simplicity of friendship is expertly explored and long remembered.

My thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for my digital review copy.

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