This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality

BOYCE, Jo Ann Allen & . 320p. bibliog. chron. notes. photos. Bloomsbury. Jan. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781681198521.
Gr 4–8—This evocatively told, carefully researched memoir-in-verse is the story of a group of 12 teenagers from Clinton, TN, who, in 1956, were among the first black students to pave the way for school integration. Free verse and formal poetry, along with newspaper headlines, snippets of legislation, and other primary sources about national and local history are mixed with Boyce's first-person narrative. The book opens with an overview of life in segregated Clinton and the national events leading up to the desegregation of Clinton High. The rest of the work follows the four months in the fall of 1956 when Boyce and the other 11 teens attended Clinton High. They faced angry white mobs outside the school, constant harassment from white classmates, and a hostile principal who viewed integration as a legal choice rather than a moral one. The book includes an introduction and epilogue, authors' notes, brief biographies of the involved students, photographs, a time line, and a bibliography. The writing invites readers to cheer on Boyce for her optimism and her stubbornness in the face of racism, without singling her out as a solitary hero. This story adeptly shows readers that, like the Clinton Twelve, they too can be part of something greater than themselves.
VERDICT A must-buy for tweens and teens, especially where novels-in-verse are popular.—Erica Ruscio, formerly at Rockport Public Library, MA

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