Book Pairing: On the Desegregation of Virginia Public Schools
24 July 2015
Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County is part history, part memoir. Written by Kristen Green, who was raised in Prince Edward County, Virginia, and attended Prince Edward Academy (a private school that did not accept black students until the 1980s--yes, you read that right, 80s). Green started poking around her town's local history and was startled to learn not only that her county protested desegregation by closing schools to all children (and using state funds for education to support the founding of Prince Edward Academy), but that her family was intimately involved in the fight against desegregation. It's an eye-opening read, to say the least.
Robin Talley's Lies We Tell Ourselves, a YA novel, comes at the same subject from a very different angle. The novel centers on two girls on opposite sides of the desegregation fight in Virginia: Sarah, one of the first black students to attend Jefferson High, and Linda, one of the most popular girls at school and daughter of the town's strongest opponent of desegregation. The two girls are assigned to work on a group project, and are startled to find their time spent working together leads to a kind of friendship--or perhaps something more. Talley explores the ins and outs of high school drama skillfully, but even more so, brings a very human, very personal story to the desegregation battles in public schools, depicting the horrors and trials Sarah--and her sister and friends--were subject to as the first black students at an all-white school.
Individually, both books are excellent. Taken together, they highlight different aspects of the same subject, exploring the shameful history of segregation in America.
Labels: 2015 books, book pairing, book review, diverse books, fiction, new books, new fiction, new nonfiction, non-fiction