Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd

Night on FireNight on Fire by Ronald Kidd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review copy provided by Netgalley

I was amazed by this book's unflinching presentation of racism in the time of the Civil Rights Movement. Told from the point of view of a bystander who looked on as the Freedom Riders bus and its riders were brutalized from attempting to break down the bus segregation laws that existed in Alabama and other southern states, this book brings both the historical events and the perspectives of people from both sides of what transpired in sharp focus.

What I found most impressive was how the author presented race relations. Kidd did a superb job showing the mistrust that existed between black and white community members through the eyes of a child. This book is deeply moving and memorable. While it presents racially charged hatred, it does it in a way that is sensitive to its readers. There are no examples of foul language or racial slurs with the exception of the use of the word 'crackers' in reference to white people in two places in the book. This is an honest, plainly outstanding piece of historical fiction that belongs in the libraries of elementary schools and middle schools everywhere.

I am adding a copy to my library as soon as I can. I encourage all librarians who read this to do the same. It should be in consideration for use in school curriculum as we attempt to teach this vital piece of American history. I don't know of a more compelling piece about the Freedom Riders. It's relatable and thought-provoking. Excellent book. A true pleasure to read. Given the chance, it could create engaging conversation in the classroom.

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