Nine-year-old Cassie Logan knows the world isn’t fair. Like how she and her brothers have to walk miles to their school every day, rain or shine, while the children of white plantation owners get to ride the bus. Or how storeowners serve every white customer in the store before asking her what she wants to buy. No one seems to see her past the color of her skin. It’s not right, but in 1933, Mississippi doesn’t show any signs of changing.
Her family has something, though, which keeps them from losing hope. The land. For generations it’s given the Logans a source of income and pride that keeps them from being forced into sharecropping. But it can’t protect them from everything, and it draws the attention of people, powerful people, who would do anything to get their way.
The world isn’t fair, and everyone knows it. To accept the way things are is to be considered inferior, to be mistreated and abused. But change comes at a price, and to rebel is to put at risk everything close to your heart.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry won the Newbery Medal, and it’s one of those books which completely deserves it. The author creates a setting and cast which truly seem real, and doesn’t shy away from the deplorable things which happened during that period in history. Cassie’s narration is strong and believable, and her family and friends are all stunningly human. The effects of racism and intolerance are far-reaching, and the story makes clear just how horrific they can be. I would highly recommend this powerful, unflinchingly honest book to readers ages 11 and up.