A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Midnight Without a Moon is set in 1955 Mississippi, where 13-year-old Rose is living with her sharecropper grandparents and other family members on a cotton plantation. Through Rose's eyes and spirited narrative voice, we get an up-close-and-personal sense of what it meant (and how dangerous it could be) to be young, smart, and black in that era. The story involves several murders of black men who register to vote, and finally of 14-year-old Emmett Till, visiting from out of town and killed for whistling at a white woman. Other mature subject matter includes numerous pregnancies of unmarried teens, including one who's sneaking out at night for much of the story, and a old woman who routinely beats her children and grandchildren. But while readers should be mature enough to take this in context, Rose and the other characters, as well as the complex issues, personalities, and cultural nuances, make for a must-read story.
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What's the story?
MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON -- that's what 13-year-old Rose Lee Carter's grandmother says about her granddaughter's dark skin, while also spoiling her light-skinned cousin Queen rotten. It's 1955, and Rose, Queen, and Rose's younger brother, Fred Lee, all live with their sharecropper grandparents in Mississippi -- they're all the result of their mothers' teen pregnancies, and their moms ditched them as soon as the women found husbands. Rose's best friend, Hallelujah, the preacher's son, shares her intelligence and love of learning, brings her articles from Jet magazine and supports her hopes for a better life than working some white man's cotton field. When NAACP workers come to the area to register voters, black folks who register tend to wind up dead. Then, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy visiting from Chicago, is abducted and murdered for supposedly whistling at a white woman, sending shock waves through the community. Rose's life and the course of history soon converge.
Is it any good?
Linda Williams Jackson's debut offers an irresistible, compelling heroine in 13-year-old Rose, growing up in a sharecropper family in Mississippi at the dawn of the civil rights era. Amid terrifying violence and historic change, the complex, nuanced characters and eventful narrative -- as seen through the eyes of a spirited young girl -- make for a great read and return visits. Rose's narrative voice in Midnight Without a Moon is full of humor, determination, and self-respect despite powerful challenges, and she has the help and support of her best friend and some loving adults. (A sequel, A Sky Full of Stars, is due in January 2018.)
"Mama was tall, shapely, caramel-complexioned, and movie-star beautiful. Except for the height, I looked nothing like her. I was string-bean skinny and black as the ace of spades, as Ma Pearl liked to say. ... But according to Ma Pearl, her daughter was definitely no angel. Having had me at fifteen and Fred Lee at sixteen, Mama was what the old folks labeled 'ruint.'"
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the civil rights era is portrayed in Midnight Without a Moon. How were things different then? What other books have you read about the period?
How would you feel if your family made you drop out of school to work in the fields?
Why is it so important for African-Americans -- and everyone -- to exercise the right to vote?
- Author: Linda Williams Jackson
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date: January 3, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 12
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
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