Wednesday, March 30, 2011

FIRE FROM THE ROCK by Sharon M. Draper

FIRE FROM THE ROCK is a story set in 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the time of the federal order requiring integration of public schools.  It tells some of what happened leading up to the Little Rock nine - the students who were the first to attend a previously all-white high school.

Sylvia will be starting high school next year.  As a young black girl, she is focused on boys, her classes, and pleasing her parents.  She is the daughter of a preacher and an elementary school teacher.  The family is used to the way things are in Little Rock.  Shopping at store owned by blacks, going to their black church, and living in their segregated neighborhood are just the way things are.  However, in other parts of the country blacks are protesting and demonstrating for civil rights, and it's beginning to influence the younger generation in the Little Rock area.

Sylvia is worried about her older brother Gary.  He had a run-in with some white boys who beat him up and dumped him on the front porch.  Gary is now determined to get even with his attackers, and he sees the upcoming integration as his chance.  However, his sister Sylvia becomes one of the chosen students instead of him.

Being one of the black students chosen to begin the integration of Little Rock schools both excites and frightens Sylvia.  She views going to the larger, better equipped high school as a chance to reach her goal of becoming someone special and making a difference in the world, but at the same time she knows her experience could be a dangerous one.  She has the support of her family, but ultimately the decision to attend the all-white school is hers.

Author Sharon M. Draper captures the true flavor of those tumultuous times.  Examples of devastating prejudice are described in detail.  Readers familiar with this period of history will appreciate the directness with which Draper presents the events, and younger readers will have a chance to see those challenging times through the eyes of a character much like themselves.  After reading a few brief passages to my students, quite a waiting list has formed of readers wanting to read the rest for themselves.

1 comment:

Tina's Blog said...

I loved this one, too. I read it a few years ago, and still remember a great deal of it.