Nov 4, 2019

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

This is a book that has been on my TBR a very long time- and before that I had definitely heard of it. It won a Newbery in 1977. I think I may have seen a film version when I was a kid- one of the scenes where the family and their neighbors fight a fire in the cotton field at night, beating the flames with dampened grain sacks, was suddenly visually familiar to me. It's about the Logans- a black family living in Mississippi during the thirties. Cassie's family owns their land, but is surrounded by black families who are sharecropping, barely able to make ends meet. The nine-year-old narrator tells about all the inequalities she experiences and witnesses- from sub-par segregated schooling to suffering insults and snubs in public, to watching her family struggle to hold onto their land as white people in positions of influence and means make life hard for them. At first this is subtle, and Cassie's parents resist by equally subtle means- encouraging the black community to boycott the local white-owned grocery store, for example. But gradually things escalate into violence- beatings, theft, shooting, threats of lynching. Even the kids get involved, trying to sabotage the school bus (I thought this was funny) and Cassie cleverly (but in a rather backhanded way) gets even with a white girl who once forced her off the sidewalk and humiliates her in school. While the racism and violence is disturbing to read about, Cassie's family bonds tighter through their troubles- the kids definitely stick up for each other- and the parents share wise words to counsel their children. I can see why this book is taught in schools and considered a classic, but somehow I did not really feel invested in the characters. Might just be the other distractions around me IRL right now. Actually the two characters that interested me most were outside the main family- one a black boy who has a cocky attitude and winds up in bad company- a gradual thing but you see it coming. The other a white kid who is something of a loner and walks with Cassie and her siblings to and from school- he tries to befriend them but they are wary. I liked this kid, wish he'd been more a part of the story. The book is part of a series about the Logan family- but unfortunately I don't really feel interested in seeking out any of the other volumes.

Borrowed from the public library.

Rating: 3/5                276 pages, 1976

more opinions:
Valentina's Room
the Literate Mother
anyone else?


  1. I remember my son reading this but can't remember what he thought of it.

  2. I was confused for a moment, since Animorphs' Cassie is black and owns a farm.

    While this book sounds interesting, I don't think I'll put it on my TBR list. Real life racism is enough for me right now, I don't really want to read about more of it.


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