Book Review:Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

An extremely well written, winner of Ezra Jack Keats award FREEDOM SUMMER is a book that must be added to any library display of award winning books. The story is told in a very tactful way and the author has done an excellent job in tackling the issue of racism from a child’s standpoint which adds to the innocent and simple quality to the book.

It is a story of a white boy and his best friend, James Henry Waddell who is a black boy. The book provides the readers with a bit of background information about the civil rights movement and its aftermath at the beginning. While after 1964, people of all races and colors were legally given the same rights and treatment but some businesses closed down as they were not in favor of serving the blacks.

The narrator (white boy) begins the story by calling James as his best friend. Set during the summer of desegregation in the South, the narrator of the novel is aware of the fact that racism still exists to some extent. So, the boys swim together at the creek rather than at the whites-only town pool and the fact that James cannot accompany the narrator to the drug store to buy ice pops. But the boys were ecstatic over the new laws that mandate that there is no segregation between the whites and the blacks. The boys rejoiced until the town filled the pool with tar in protest. At this point the narrator sees the town through James’s eyes and both the boys have a life changing moment. But at the end James makes a declaration that he too wants to do everything like his friend can and ultimately the book ends at a happy note with the two friends going together to the drugstore to buy ice pops.

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