Friday, June 7, 2013

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry

Taylor, Mildred D. 1976. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. New York: Dial Books.  ISBN 0-8037-2647-3
Set in the Depression of the 1930's, this Newbery Medal winner is the story of the Logan family and their struggle to keep the land that they own and love in rural Mississippi.  But, more than that, it is the story of the loss of innocence and the journey into understanding of how things should be and how they are for Cassie Logan who has felt the protective blanket of her family's love against the brutal truth of hate and racism.  As Cassie and her family struggle against injustice and fight to keep what they own despite growing racial hostilities, they learn what is worth fighting for and that sometimes battles are larger than one person or family.
Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, though fiction, is a wonderful depiction of a complicated time in American history.  Through realistic characters and settings, Mildred D. Taylor manages to transport the reader back in time to the 1930s and the Great Depression.  Further, without sounding "preachy" she weaves the injustices and racism faced my African Americans into the work with a sad authenticity.  The work is well written and the story progresses at a pace which manages to not only hold the readers interest but allows for the realistic development of Cassie's realization of the harsh truths of the world in which she lives.  The use of language within the text is authentic to the period and location.  Clothing descriptions, when used, are appropriate to the setting and economic condition of the characters. 

Ms. Taylor manages to present the Logan family in a way that shows the strength of character of each and the love which exists between them.  The roles held by each member are appropriate for the time period and are presented as an accepted norm.  For readers unfamiliar with the gender and racial roles of the era, this may present some confusion and questioning.  However, this presents an excellent opportunity for the gaining of new knowledge by the reader. 

Even 37 years after the publication of the work, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, presents itself with a level of truth that cannot be denied.  The racism which existed in Mississippi during the early 20th century is still, unfortunately, a presence in many parts of the country, though one would hope not to the extent in which it appears within the work.  The novel is a valid work of historical fiction which can and should be held by libraries and utilized within classrooms as part of the American experience.

  • Newbery Award (1977)
  •  ALA Notable Book



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