Claudette Colvin

I was curious to read the Cybils Nonfiction Finalist Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice because it’s gotten so much buzz, and also because unlike some, I had heard of Claudette Colvin — from, in fact, the Cybils MG/YA Nonfiction winner from 2006 that I was also privileged to help select — Russell Freedman’s Freedom Walkers (linked to my review).

It was a teenaged Claudette Colvin who was one of the first who chose not to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, not Rosa Parks, who was sort of chosen to be the face of the lawsuit.

The author Phillip Noose pulls us into Colvin’s story right away, and I found it to be well-written and quite readable, though it did drag a bit towards the end.

The fact that certain elements were not buried (such as Colvin’s teen pregnancy and her reaction to it) made it more realistic as opposed to heroic in my mind, which is a danger that some books in this type of biography fall prey to. This fair-minded portrayal of other events in her life make her story even more inspiring, because how many of us (teens or adults) do everything right all the time? I think that her story can help inspire teens that they can make a big difference in the world.

In reviewing this type of book, I have to wonder if it’s the kind of book that Young Adults want to read, or the kind of book that adults want young adults to read? That said, it’s a great book. The angle of a teen who was active within the Civil Rights movement is perhaps a more relevant take for teens.

Content: This book does not gloss over the very real, hard facts of prejudice and does contain some violence towards Claudette and others that a younger teen might find disturbing. The book also addresses rape and Claudette’s teen pregnancy. For this reason, I would recommend it for teens, not tweens.

Jennifer Donovan has loved reading through Black History month, and encourages you not to just read “black literature” during black history month. Read more about her reading life and life in general at Snapshot.

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