Whistling Past the Graveyard

Whistling Past the Graveyard

Unknown - 2013
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Fleeing her strict grandmother's home in 1963 Mississippi, nine-year-old Starla Claudelle becomes an unlikely companion to an African-American woman at whose side she learns harsh lessons about segregation and family.
Publisher: New York : Gallery Books, 2013
ISBN: 9781476707723
Characteristics: 308 pages ; 24 cm


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IndyPL_SteveB May 21, 2019

A heartfelt novel of growing up in Mississippi in 1963 by an Indiana author who might just be close to stardom. Starla Claudelle is nine years old, white (this is important), and a red-headed spitfire living with a narrow-minded and emotionally distant grandmother in a small town in the South. Her mother left years ago to try for a Nashville singing career and Starla hasn’t seen her since. Her father works on the Gulf of Mexico oil rigs and comes home infrequently. When Starla’s temper and sense of injustice threaten to get her severely punished (again), she runs away, thinking she can walk to Nashville and find her mother. She gets a ride from Eula, a young black woman who has picked up a white baby abandoned at a church. With their limited life experiences, being together in one car in 1963 Mississippi places them in more danger than they can possibly know.

There is a lot of humor in this book but also a lot of fear. Finally there is a growing sense of what is important about human relationships and how race need not always be a barrier. Some reviewers have compared this book to *To Kill a Mockingbird.* It is not a classic quite on that level; but it is a fine novel that makes deep connections with our own sense of what is important. The period details all seem right and the two main characters are especially well written.

Aug 23, 2016

Great book, very uplifting and keeps you reading.

Aug 30, 2015

Starla is girl from a small town and since it is 1963 pre -internet. She has only the knowledge and beliefs of those around her, though she does rebel at many of these. Ignorance brings about truth and a knowledge she would never have had if her grandmother had not been so mean and if her father had not lied about Starla's mom . She runs away and the world opens up to her in totally new ways, not all of them good as she is almost murdered twice. Starla sees the consequences of segregation on someone she actually knows and comes to love.
It is a coming of age story and a lesson in acceptance.
It is an good if somewhat predictable read.

Jan 09, 2015

Good book!

Sep 03, 2014

This was a surprising book and a very delightful one. Starla is a very determined young girl, & the author does a wonderful job of bringing out her character & making the reader enjoy her adventures. I could easily recommend this book to all my reading friends.

Jun 23, 2014

A great summer read! I loved it!!

Oct 04, 2013

One of my top ten reads this year. This is a brilliant book. While it is a good story, an engaging quick read, the social implications/revelations/abominations are graceful, critical and "hearable", in my view, because they come from the thoughts of a child. Down south, a young white girl - Starla, bright, spirited and precocious is bone-tired of her domineering grandmother, of whose care she is in. She runs away...without really planning to, or thinking it through. She just begins to walk. Along the road she meets a middle aged black woman who takes her in, along with the other white child, a baby, that she, well, sorta 'stole.' Together they take an journey through the deep south during the times of white-water-fountains, lunch-counter-sit-ins, blacks-to-the-back-of-the-bus experiences. Our young lady learns how dangerous skin color can be, the absurdities, the realities. We listen to her mind tangled with questions, outrages, confusion...very much thoughts I believe many of us adults may have...presented with such wholesome simplicity that it is heart wrenching. We have an absent oil-rig-working-daddy, murder, swamps, shut doors, evil eyes, a baby in a suitcase...a grand ol' oprey mama, worn shoes, high fevers, cold nights under the stars, fear, love and wonder. Our girl is courageous. She made me proud. She squeezed my heart. My man and I both read this book and we both were moved to tears in the end pages, a rarity for both of us. Beautifully done. Well well worth it. Will be thinking about this book for a long long time.

_ "My daddy says that when you do somethin' to distract you from your worstest fears, it's like whistlin' past the graveyard. You know, making a racket to keep the scaredness and the ghosts away. He says that's how we get by sometimes."

Sep 26, 2013

This was a nice coming of age story with a likeable sassy little nine year old as the protaganist. It will appeal to those you who enjoy southern fiction or a nice clean story. My only complaint is that I found it lacking in depth but it was an easy entertaining book for those that like a lighter read.




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