Thursday, June 5, 2014


My Mother the CheerleaderIf you are looking for a slightly different view of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's, check out MY MOTHER THE CHEERLEADER by Robert Sharenow.

Louise lives with her mother in a New Orleans' boarding house.  Louise's mother owns the boarding house and usually rents the few rooms to truckers passing through on their runs.  Her mother can usually be found "entertaining" these men or else spending the long, hot southern afternoons drinking pitchers of lime juleps in the backyard.

Recently, school desegregation has been the topic.  A young Negro girl enrolled in Louise's school.  Louise's mother is against desegregation and joined a group of mothers who protest every day at the school.  The women yell vicious taunts at the little girl, and they've become known as the Cheerleaders.  They have received media attention which has encouraged Louise's mother even more as she participates in the protests.  All Louise knows is, like most of the other parents, her mother has pulled her out of school, and now she is spending her time doing most of the work around the boarding house.

When a handsome stranger from New York arrives and rents a room for several nights, Louise and her mother both fixate on this mysterious man.  He says he has come to reunite with a brother he hasn't seen for many years.  When he visits the site of the protests, he becomes the victim of taunts and threats from the crowd who see his New York license plates and assume he is Jewish there to support desegregation.  Louise is frightened by the threats of violence toward the man she has taken a liking to, and her mother is also surprised by the crowd's reaction. 

Robert Sharenow presents a unique view of the segregation/desegregation issue.  Louise is a curious and likeable main character, and readers will definitely connect with her as she critically observes the adults around her and tries to make sense of a very confusing social issue.

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