About The Book:
- Whistling Past the Graveyard
- by Susan Crandall
- Category: Historical Fiction / YA
- Publisher: Gallery Books
- Expected Publication: July 2nd 2013 by Gallery Books
- Pages: 307
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Received From: Gallery Books for an honest review.
From an award-winning author comes a wise and tender coming-of-age story about a nine-year-old girl who runs away from her Mississippi home in 1963, befriends a lonely woman suffering loss and abuse, and embarks on a life-changing roadtrip.
The summer of 1963 begins like any other for nine-year-old Starla Claudelle. Born to teenage parents in Mississippi, Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother, Mamie, whose worst fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother. Starla hasn’t seen her momma since she was three, but is convinced that her mother will keep her promise to take Starla and her daddy to Nashville, where her mother hopes to become a famous singer—and that one day her family will be whole and perfect.
When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla’s fear that Mamie will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride, with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville.
As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla’s eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 southern segregation. Through talks with Eula, reconnecting with her parents, and encountering a series of surprising misadventures, Starla learns to let go of long-held dreams and realizes family is forged from those who will sacrifice all for you, no matter if bound by blood or by the heart.
I stayed up well into the night to finish this one. That was after I was all tucked in and comfy but just couldn’t get this out of my mind. I could have read in bed but I didn’t want to get drowsy, I wanted to be able to take in every detail! It was so worth it!
This starts and I really felt for Starla. Her grandmother is a bit of a pain. And boy does she have her opinions, which she thinks are truths (of course). It is about the 1960′s and of course the prejudices of that time. And Susan Crandall does an outstanding job of not having it come from just one point of view. Although the story is told in Starla’s pov, we get to see how everyone treats each other from the view of a nine year old.
But what really got me is the intensity and the enormity of all the situations Starla finds herself in. Some situations are so intense that I nearly wanted to put the book down. I just didn’t see how she and Eula could find a good way out of the stickiness they always find themselves in! But I just had to keep trudging on to find out what happened. I couldn’t help myself… And although quite a bit of this is unnerving, much like a horror novel where your heart is beating a hundred miles per hour and you’re scared when the character peeks around the corner because you just KNOW that something bad is going to happen, much like that but even as adrenaline was being pumped through me, I just knew I had to stick it out with Starla. And her story is so worth it! For a nine year old she’s sharp as a whip and so interesting!
But my favorite character was Eula. She has been through so much and keeps her Christian faith. She never talks poorly about anyone and truly is such a beautiful person. This is one of those times when you wish you could really meet this person because you just know she would help to make YOU a better person. Susan did a brilliant job of making her come alive. So much so that even with all her praying, which can sometimes get on my nerves if done in abundance, she instead made me feel like she was really special and just so grateful that she had air in her lungs and a sky to look upon!
The plot was mesmerizing. Like I said, I nearly wanted to put this down, but I just couldn’t. I was whistling right along Starla and Eula! And the ending… oh the ending. It brought tears to my eyes. I will be thinking of this book for a long time to come!
About The Author: