AT A GLANCE:
Genre: Historical Fiction, Elementary Reading, Middle Grade Reading, Diary Format, Prejudice and Racism Books
Length: 339 pages
Cost: $4.99 on Kindle, $5.61 paperback, $6.58 CD, $20 Hardcover
NOTES: Highly recommended book for any age above 4th grade reading level.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Background: I knew nothing about this book. I was shopping the Scholastic book fair at my daughter’s school, and we went looking in the teacher’s basket to buy a book for her class, which is where I found With the Might of Angels. I read the back and decided that not only would we get it for the teacher, my own family needed a copy. I’m so glad!
This book is directed to an audience somewhere between elementary school and high school, but honestly, anyone of any age would enjoy this story. A fictionalized account of the aftermath of Brown vs. the Board of Education, this book is the chronological story of the first black girl, Dawnie Rae Johnson, to attend a white school in her area. It’s told in diary format, which means the language level is about that of a ten year old.
I particularly enjoyed how the author didn’t shy away from difficult words, but rather had her main character, Dawnie, look them up and define them in her diary for the reader. It allowed the book to cover difficult concepts without watering them down. These facts were woven in fantastically with the emotion of the story. I rarely cry during books, yet this book had me tearing up several times. Though the author holds back from using the most hurtful language, she manages to capture the fear, humiliation, frustration, and pain of Dawnie and her family, whole also capturing their victories, humor and personality.
The ending is a bit rose-colored, but not unexpected for a book aimed at a younger audience. I highly recommend this book to anyone who can read at a fourth grade level or above. It’s a critical part of history that we tend to think about factually rather than emotionally, and being able to experience the emotions of the time is incredibly educational, especially for a white audience like me and my family.
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