Monday, February 06, 2012

Jewish Civil Rights Activists

Greenberg, David T. A Tugging String.
Based on the real-life experiences of the author, whose father was a Civil Rights attorney who worked with Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King, this novel offered a different perspective to the Civil Rights movement. Duvy lives in New York City, but know that his father travels to the South to help the black citizens. When Dorothy Milton, a college educated woman living in Selma, Alabama in 1960 finds it impossible to register to vote, Jack Greenburg gets involved with the case. His life is in danger during several points in this process, and eventually the entire black community decides that something must be done, which results in a huge march from Selma to Montgomery to protest the hoops that blacks are made to jump through in order to be able to vote. There is a brief section of photographs in the middle, and plentiful footnotes describe real events and people and how the book has dealt with them for the purposes of the story.
Strengths: It was very interesting to read about David’s perceptions of his father’s work at the time, and helpful that he occasionally quotes from his father’s writing about the events. A different and intriguing perspective.
Weaknesses: This fell somewhere between fiction and nonfiction, and while at times I wanted it to be either one or the other, in the end this was probably an effective way to write the book. The title could have been a bit better-- this one is rather nondescript.

Brandeis, Gayle. My Life with the Lincolns.
Mina has a good life in Downer’s Grove, Illinois in 1966. Her parents run Honest ABE’s furniture store, and she and her two sisters attend a nice school, but Mina is convinces that her family all are members of Lincoln’s family reincarnated, and this gives her some worries. She doesn’t want to die (she’s Will), doesn’t want her mother to go crazy, and doesn’t want her father to be shot. There’s not much chance of that at the beginning, but as her father becomes more involved in the Civil Rights movement and starts attending rallies in Chicago. Things often become violent as people protest living conditions and differences in treatment. Her father, perhaps more motivated when he sees the synagogue he attended growing up converted into a Baptist church, starts to neglect the business a bit, and this causes stress in the family.
Strengths: Lots of vivid detail about life at the time-- Quisp cereal and medical encyclopedias at the grocery, family photos in prarie garb-- adds to the immediacy of the story.
Weaknesses: Could have done without Mina thinking she had angina because her breasts were growing-- she is so concerned about this that she takes someone else’s nitroglycerin tablets and ends up in the hospital! There are other descriptions that also made me uncomfortable and really didn’t add to the story.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger, who hosts it on her blog. There are always lots of good posts, so visit Shannon's post for a great list of blogs to visit today.


  1. Hi Ms. Yingling! I just nominated your blog for a Liebster award! I really like looking at what you recommend! You can see my post at
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  2. Thanks, Erik! That's a lot of awards for one week! I'll definitely send people over this way to check out your reviews. Glad you find my blog helpful.