Book Review: Revolution by Deborah Wiles

The Sixties Trilogy #2
Deborah Wiles
Scholastic Press, May 2014
ISBN 978-0-545-10607-8

This book is imperative. I implore teachers, librarians, book sellers and book reviewers: please do not let this rest on a shelf. The time is now.

Revolution is fiction because our plucky, strident narrator Sunny and her family are fictitious. The history shared; sadly, is not. A devastating, despicable, heart-wrenching, stomach-churning account of the incomprehensible influence of a few small-minded, hate-filled, yet surprisingly powerful, white men throwing their weight around to stop any and all strides towards race equality is all too true. Ms. Wiles unravels the tragedies with honesty, raw emotion and kindness and hope. She masterfully represents two dramatically different views while, most importantly, centering on the third view.

Having a twelve-year old girl, adjusting to life with her cherished father and new step-family, a rarity itself in Mississippi in 1964, Ms. Wiles simultaneously opens the reader’s mind. Sunny is smart, and like so many of us at that age, she has the world figured out. As the daughter of a store-keep that has always catered to both Negro and White clientele, she fancies herself as a modern-day thinker.

As her small town fills with volunteers to assist Black Voter Registration for Freedom Day, Sunny learns that there is much more to the individuals that make up her family and community. From her vantage point, being somewhat removed, she is able to see the whole picture and in doing so, is forced to reevaluate her own opinion. Further, she learns that she has the option to make a difference and possibly influence others. Few things move me more than passion for what is right, and this fiery little girl is filled.

Adding this engrossing, motivating read are pictures straight out of Mississippi. If Ms. Wiles’ prose doesn’t jar the reader, I assure you these photographs deliver the punch. History, accompanied by humanity, is so very important for growth and development and it is somewhat disappointing to me that so many of the facets of this time were glaringly omitted from my text-books. Muhammad Ali’s role in the Civil Rights Movement is a bit awe-inspiring and quite frankly, explanatory. If ever there was a tome to whole-heartedly support for required reading, it is Revolution. Being appropriate for Middle-Grade readers in no way excludes High School Students/Young Adults or Not-So-Young Adults like me. I genuinely believe that most readers will learn something new, and I’m confident that, regardless of the reader’s age, emotions will be stirred.

Reviewed by jv poore, October 2014.