Monday, August 12, 2013

Whistling Past the Graveyard - Susan Crandall

My review of Whistling Past the Graveyard first appeared last month in Shelf Awareness for Readers. It is appearing here with their permission. (Side note: this is also the book with Tootsies!)

First line: "My grandmother said she prays for me every day."

Starla Claudelle can’t seem to do anything right and her mamie makes sure she knows it. During the summer of 1963, Starla’s caught defying her grandmother’s punishment. She’s convinced her mamie is sending her off to reform school this time, so she decides to run away.

Starla plans, as only a nine-year-old can, to find her mother, the woman who left her when she was 3 to become a star in Nashville. Quickly figuring out she can’t walk the whole way from her small town Mississippi home to Tennessee, Starla hitches a ride with a kind black woman traveling with a white infant. Unbeknownst to Starla she’s just bought her ticket for a trip that will help define her life.

Whistling Past the Graveyard’s themes of hope, faith and innocence are plunked down in one of the nation’s darkest time periods. With an exceptionally strong voice for her young spitfire narrator, Susan Crandall reminds readers that while the depth of hate was extraordinary, there were special people who used their gifts to encourage love, compassion and tolerance.

The young girl who shuns society’s idea of a “lady” represents light in the darkness; through her idiosyncratic language and her brassy spunk she is at turns humorous, endearing and heart breaking. Through it all she is convincing. Readers won’t be able to help but love and admire Starla Claudelle.

With echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn, Whistling Past the Graveyard is a timeless tale. Whether 1963 or 2013, celebrating the good in others in a precious gift.

Whistling Past the Graveyard is available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-1476707723) from Gallery Books. There is also an unabridged audio (ISBN: 978-1624068799) available from Dreamscape Audio, narrated by Amy Rubinate.



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