Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor has long been on my TBR list (the one I carry around in my head). I read Taylor’s The Land right after it was published, and as a prequel to Roll of Thunder, it really piqued my curiosity. I devoured it and LOVED it. Fast forward over a dozen years, and I finally got around to reading the best-known of the Logan family stories, Newbery medal-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
Set in Mississippi during the 1930s, this story chronicles the Logan family’s desperate attempt to hang onto the land they own in the segregated South. Told from the perspective of the family’s only daughter, ten year old Cassie, the story paints a picture of a loving family whose work ethic is honed razor-sharp by their desire to keep their land in a society where sharecropping for African Americans (as well as poor whites) was the norm. What makes the situation even worse is, as history has shown us, that society is also characterized by suspicion and violence. Cassie is full of moxie, to the point that she doesn’t use wisdom as she is so often admonished to do by her mama and her Big Ma (grandmother). This story goes from one crisis to another, until the book finally ends just after the biggest crisis of all–one that leaves us perched on the edge of an emotional cliff (and which is presumably resolved in the next book, Let the Circle Be Unbroken). My suspicions are there probably isn’t a real resolution for the Logan family.
I read this one aloud to my girls and used The Boomerang for dictation and discussion ideas. I hope to take them out for fro yo tomorrow night and talk about the story. I also hope to find the next book and hand it off to them. We thoroughly enjoyed this one as a read-aloud. I couldn’t help but compare this one to To Kill a Mockingbird just a wee bit, and I hope to remember to draw the comparison when we get to TKM in a few years. My only complaints about it are the (unfortunately historically accurate) use of the N-word (which gave us food for discussion!) and the long chapters. I prefer for my read alouds to have short chapters, and this one most definitely does not. I have the novella The Friendship by Taylor, which is an episode from the Logan family chronicles, waiting in the wings for us to read while we wait for our next history read aloud to come in the big brown truck. Highly Recommended. (1976)