I just picked up this book called The Lions of Little Rock and I haven’t been able to put it down. It’s a masterfully crafted story about the year after the Little Rock Nine took place. In the author’s note Kristin Levine writes about how when she began research for this book she initially wanted to have it take place during 1957 when the Central High School was first integrated. But, when she began to interview people they mostly talked about the year after that 1958 when all the schools closed down to prevent integration. So she decided to place her characters in 1958 instead.
The main character Marlee is shy to the point where she doesn’t speak to people outside of the family. Her brother has gone to college and her sister is being sent away so that she can attend school. Marlee struggles to socialize in school but when a new girl comes that all changes. Marlee has a real friend in Liz and then one day Liz disappears. The rumor is that she was a colored girl “passing” for white.
This is a story about overcoming great obstacles, about doing the right thing instead of the easy thing. It is masterfully told through the eyes of this young girl who struggles to understand why no one wants her to keep her one true friend. Levine has captured a very real story. I can’t wait to pick up her other book The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had.
This book would make a great book club book for fifth and sixth graders.