Whistling Past the Graveyard

Whistling Past the Graveyard

Nine-year-old Starla is being raised by her grandmother Mamie whose worst fear is that she will turn out like her mother who has ran off to Nashville to become a star. Starla has a quick temper and finds herself getting into trouble and losing privileges all the time. She is grounded on the 4th of July but sneaks out to the parade anyway and gets caught. Scared that Mamie will follow through on her threat to send her to reform school she decides to run away to Nashville to find her mom. She just knows that when she is with her mom again that her dad can come and they can once again be a happy family.

While walking down the road she is picked up by a black woman named Eula, who is also on the run and traveling with a white baby. Thinking luck has turned her way she happily gets in hoping to get as close to Nashville as she can.

As they make their way Starla sees what segregation in the Deep South in 1963 is really like. Through talks with Eula and getting together with her parents and going through all the misadventures she goes through on her way to Nashville, Starla finally realizes that real family are the ones who are always there for you and that life can be what she has always dreamed of. Just maybe not in the way she initially wanted.

This book is labeled as written for an adult audience but would be very good for advanced readers of high school age. There is some swearing in it but it is spaced out and usually just a word or two. A great coming of age story based in the segregated south in 1963.

Recommended by: Joleen Waltman, Librarian, Idaho USA

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