Jackson, Linda Williams. Midnight Without a Moon
January 3rd 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
When Rose's mother goes north with her new husband and children, she leaves Rose and her brother Fred with their grandmother, Ma Pearl. Also in the household is Queen, a light skinned cousin who doesn't have to work as hard as Rose does. Rose does well in school, and is determined to leave Mississippi for Chicago, where whites and Negroes go to school together. Ma Pearl, however, has other plans. She is not happy that the NAACP is trying to get the black community to register to vote, because she feels it will only cause trouble and get people killed. There are varying opinions about this, including that of an aunt who lives in the north and occasionally visits, the preacher's son (who is a friend of Rose's), and Rose's grandfather, Papa. There are other concerns in Rose's life besides civil rights, and she must contend with her Aunt Ruthie, whose husband is abusive, as well as Queen, who sneaks out at night and gets herself into trouble. When a boy from the north who is visiting relatives in a nearby town is taken from the house by white men and found dead in a river, tensions escalate. Rose must figure out her place in the world, as well as how she can be in charge of her own destiny.
Strengths: This is one of the better Civil Rights books I've read, because it addresses the lives of ordinary people and discusses the different opinions that people had. It also has lots of good details about ordinary life, such as how Rose is expected to drop out of school after 7th grade and work in the fields and house. It's also good at bringing up the northern migration-- I can't think that I've read anything about that (except Woods' The Red Rose Box, and the mother in that goes to California). The fact that the boy who was murdered was Emmet Till will be interesting to readers who have studied his case.
Weaknesses: Sensitive readers should know that this uses the language of the era, so variations of nigger and nigga are used. This was a long book with lots of information, so I could have done without the stories about the cousin getting pregnant and the aunt who was abused. Even though they were interesting, they diluted the more important story.
What I really think: Definitely will purchase, since the historical details were great and the topic was important, but it might be difficult to get students to read it. I know our high school reads The Help, and this would be a MUCH better choice for that project!