Whistling Past the Graveyard

Whistling Past the Graveyard

by Susan Crandall

Overview: Whistling past the graveyard. That’s what Daddy called it when you did something to keep your mind off your most worstest fear. . . .

In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old Starla Claudelle runs away from her strict grandmother’s Mississippi home. Starla’s destination is Nashville, where her mother went to become a famous singer, abandoning Starla when she was three. Walking a lonely country road, Starla accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman traveling alone with a white baby. Now, on the road trip that will change her life forever, Starla sees for the first time life as it really is—as she reaches for a dream of how it could one day be.

Faith Bowers (09/23/14): read this book based on everyone's recommendations and though it has a very nice and pat ending, I enjoyed the reading. The book explains issues about our 1960s South though Starla which makes them seem simplified but that is also a wonderful starting point to how African Americans through strong community makes living palatable. Families who make mistakes regarding their loved ones is the other theme in this book.
Rating: ****

Dale Israel (09/03/14): Since other reviewers have done a fine job in discussing this delightful book, I will only add that I enjoyed it as well. Starla, the narrator of the story, is a precocious fiery red-head. I fell in love with her immediately. Though critics accuse the book of being unrealistic, I believe it's the author's prerogative to write fiction so that it's entertaining, enjoyable and engaging. Coming of age stories aren't my favorite genre but this one was as good as The Secret Life of Bees. Light weight perhaps but still a great read.
Rating: ****

Debbie Weiss (08/14/14): I loved this book. The story is told from young Starla's point of view. She feels unloved and fears being sent to reform school so she runs away, hoping to land in Nashsville where her mother (who abandoned her) lives and is supposedly a famous singer. Walking along the road, she meets up with Eula, a black women. Eula escorts Starla to Nashville and they bond and form a unique and unlikely family unit along the way. This was in the 60's and so civil rights and KKK is front and center in this book. Starla is a firecracker who acts on impulse and seems to always get in trouble for it. While it is a fast read, it addresses many of the serious issues that existed at that time.
Rating: *****

Judy Stanton (08/29/13): The 50th anniversary of the historic march on Washington led by Martin Luther King was a good time to read this book which told the story of the struggle for civil rights from the point of view of a 10-year-old girl. Starla Claudelle lives with her grandmother, Mamie, because her parents are divorced: her mother is in Nashville seeking out a career and her father works on an oil rig. Mamie's a strict disciplinarian who only has bad things to say about Starla and her mother, and, ultimately, drives the youngster to run away from home. The story of her journey is fast-paced and told in a wonderful Southern dialect. Although she's been exposed to black maids in her community, she doesn't absorb racial issues until she comes in contact with Eula, who gives her the mothering she's never known. A fiery red-head with a temper, Starla gets herself and others in trouble as she acts without thinking, even though it's mostly with a good heart. 4-
Rating: ****-

Leslie Swichkow (07/21/13): A captivating read from beginning to end! Starla is a curious and insightful young girl who befriends a very unlikely companion for a journey that is, at times, implausable and at other times, uplifting. Set in the South in 1963, the book has themes similar to The Help, but told from a child's point of view. An easy read and one you won't soon forget!
Rating: *****

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