Friday, September 28, 2007

My Mother The Cheerleader


Sharenow, Robert. 2007. My Mother the Cheerleader.

There are many words to describe this historical novel: brutal, violent, memorable, harsh, emotional, bold. But even all together, they fail to depict the heart and soul of hatred in the American South for desegregation in New Orleans the year Ruby Bridges begins her first grade school year. Our narrator, Louise Collins, is the daughter of one of the cheerleaders. What is a Cheerleader in this context? Grown women--mothers and wives--who daily stand on the sidewalk, the sidelines, and chant nasty, hateful words to the brave little black girl on her way to school. Louise has never thought about segregation and integration. She only knows that her mother has pulled her out of school. That instead of being overworked with school, she's burdened with caring for her mother's boarders in their boarding house. She's in charge of emptying bed pans and cleaning up after an older man--a legless diabetic--who is grumpy, grumpy, mean. Life might have gone on dismally and stagnant except for the arrival of an outsider--a man, Morgan Miller--who unknowingly changes everything for this family. Who is Morgan? Why is he in town? Morgan was born in New Orleans, he has family there, but he lives in New York. He is here to witness the harshness and brutality of racism. It is a dangerous place to be. The world is a cruel, cruel, place and this atmosphere is deadly serious about staying segregated. There is language--strong language, racist language; there is violence--even sexual violence. So this novel isn't for everyone. But while the pictures it paints are never pretty, it captures the brutal reality of America's past. The good. The bad. The ugly. It is all here.

9 comments:

Debi 9:31 AM  

This sounds like a wonderful, powerful book! Even your review brought tears to my eyes.

Becky 9:42 AM  

It was a great book. Very powerful. The emotions were raw and ugly. It didn't hold anything back.

Amanda 4:33 PM  

This sounds incredible. I'm sure I'll be in tears while reading it, but that's what makes so many books so real and overall, amazing. Thanks for the great review, as usual Becky!

Ms. Yingling 5:44 AM  

This would be difficult for middle school readers. I would also like to know why so many of the books about civil rights in the south are from the point of view of adolescent white girls. My students are much more thrilled about Draper's Fire From the Rock or McKissack's A Friendship for today. I have this one for 8th graders who have a summer reading assignment that includes Lee's To Kill a Mockingbirg. This is not a title that students in my school will just randomly pick up.

Alisha 4:47 PM  

I just finished this book yesterday...I LOVED it. Now I'm working on another book called Charlie Bone and the Hidden King. I have a review of the previous book in the series on my blog.

Rijo,  12:38 AM  

I didn't really like this book. While I agree that it held nothing back and was very real, I thought it was too much especially because it was the summer reading book for entering 8th grade at my school.

samantha,  7:33 PM  

This sounds like a really great,powerfull book. Thanks for the review becky! This really wanted to make me reading. :)

Payton,  3:41 PM  

I'm in middle school, and this was one of my favorite books of all time. I am an advanced reader, but I wouldn't say this book was too hard to read.

Fernanda,  12:16 PM  

I had to read this book for a school project and it was amazing!

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