Saving Savannah


Savannah Riddle is one of the tenth.  She is the daughter of a successful African American insurance agency owner in Washington D.C. in 1919.    She lives in a world of fine dining, fine clothing, the best schools, and a mother who watches over her with a very protective eye.  But something is missing.  Maybe it's the same thing that sent her brother Charlie up to Harlem to open his photography studio where he could breathe a little bit.  She's looked for the answer in the fancy parties and the teas and even on the arm of some eligible gentlemen but they haven't filled the void.

1919 in Washington D.C. is a time of turbulence.  It's a time when the African Americans were reaching up to carve out places for themselves and their families.  It's a time when W.E.B. Dubois was speaking out about educating the tenth.  It's a time when women were fighting for the vote.

This book is the story of a young woman who is searching for a way to make a difference in the world.  She's also searching to understand what that world really looks like.  She wants to read the newspapers that are hidden from her.  She wants to hear the voices of the dissidents. She wants to walk into the parts of her city and see for herself how the other half lives.

Savannah's journey takes her deep into African American history and heritage.  Black History Month shines a spotlight on many now familiar African American giants and heroes.  This book peels back the next couple of layers of Black History and educates the reader about this decade of history, long after the Civil War, but still a time of Jim Crow.

Tonya Bolden has done her homework and brought forth important names, incidents, riots, revolutions, philosophies and leaders that need to be in the mainstream.  Savannah Riddle leads us to a treasure chest from the past.  It's painful and violent and difficult to read but it's so important to fill in the blanks between the American Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  It took courage and daring and sacrifice and violence and suffering to make that journey.

Savannah is our guide and it's through her eyes that we get a deeper respect for the struggle and the losses and the courageous families who reached to claim a better life for themselves.

It's the usual excellence this woman brings to writing and it's a valuable journey for all.

272 pages                          978-1681198040                              Ages 13 and up

Keywords:  20th C., historical fiction, Jim Crow, African American, African American author, American history, diverse books, diversity, coming of age, social issues, social conditions, social activist, violence, riots, 13 year old, 14 year old, 15 year old, 16 year old, socialism

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,


From acclaimed author Tonya Bolden comes the story of a teen girl becoming a woman on her own terms against the backdrop of widespread social change in the early 1900s.

Savannah Riddle is lucky. As a daughter of an upper class African American family in Washington D.C., she attends one of the most rigorous public schools in the nation--black or white--and has her pick among the young men in her set. But lately the structure of her society--the fancy parties, the Sunday teas, the pretentious men, and shallow young women--has started to suffocate her.

Then Savannah meets Lloyd, a young West Indian man from the working class who opens Savannah's eyes to how the other half lives. Inspired to fight for change, Savannah starts attending suffragist lectures and socialist meetings, finding herself drawn more and more to Lloyd's world.

Set against the backdrop of the press for women's rights, the Red Summer, and anarchist bombings,Saving Savannah is the story of a girl and the risks she must take to be the change in a world on the brink of dramatic transformation.---from the publisher

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