Tuesday, January 29, 2019

March Forward, Girl by Melba Patillo Beals - OPTIONAL

March Forward, Girl by Melba Patillo Beals, 214 pages.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.  $17.  

Content: Language: PG (3 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  



Melba grew up with her mother, grandmother and brother in Little Rock, Arkansas among Jim Crow laws and deep prejudices.  This book looks at some of her childhood experiences with racism and the ways those experiences led her to want freedom from the oppression she experienced.  Melba enjoyed learning and loved her family and the combination made her the perfect fit to be one of the first to integrate her local high school.  

I loved Beals' book Warriors Don't Cry (which I highly recommend) and there were parts of this book that will stay with me forever.  I had a hard time with the adult perspective that she interpreted as her childhood thoughts, such as when she was three years old she said "How did I get here? How long did I have to stay? I imagined there must be places beyond Arkansas where my folks were treated better" and at four years old she promised herself "to survive so that I could escape Little Rock and empower myself with enough education to come back home and change everything”. All of these thoughts are valid but the age she attributed to them were hard to believe and it distracted me from the important message of the book.  I believe this story needs to be told and I loved Melba's family and her strength, but I also felt like it needed a different format so her experiences as a child weren't mixed with her perspectives as an adult on her childhood.  The violence included a hanging, sexual harassment and threat of rape.  

C. Peterson

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