Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Awards: Newbery Medal 1977; American Book Award Honor Book; ALA Notable Book; NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies; Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book

In this book, we follow the life of the Logan family. This Mississippi family has to deal with racism and oppression, of which the younger members of the family know very little. The story is told from the point of view of ten year old Cassie Logan; an African American girl who enjoys listening to her father’s stories about her grandfather’s triumph after slavery. Thinking that slavery is a thing of the past and that everyone now gets along, Cassie experiences cruelty and racism at the hands of several characters throughout the story and she is forced to slowly come to the realization that the world is still a cruel place. Some of her siblings already know this and try to shield her from it, but by the end of the book she sees the truth that destroys one family and severely affects hers.

When I finished this book I did not understand why it made it to the banned books list. It has the word “nigger” many times over and it depicts the violent cruelty of racism, but it’s representative of an aspect of reality which has not disappeared from the world. I enjoyed the way the narrative gradually takes the reader from Cassie’s naive view of the world to the crushing reality she lives in.

That said, I thought the pace of the story was very slow and I was reluctant to pick it up at times. When one of my students saw me reading it she commented that she was supposed to have read it for her class. She said it was simply too boring and she settled for the CliffsNotes version, which she enjoyed.

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