Share this "harrowing and painfully honest historical novel"* at home or in the classroom. Through this "extraordinary" debut effort from the Sydney Taylor Award winner Robert Sharenow, readers will explore how "ingrained prejudices—whether acted upon or not—help destroy lives and shatter a community."**
In 1960 New Orleans, thirteen-year-old Louise is pulled out of class by her mother to protest court-ordered integration of her school. Louise’s mother is one of the jeering “Cheerleaders.” Each morning the Cheerleaders gather at the school to harass the school's first black student, six-year-old Ruby Bridges, as she enters the building.
After a mysterious man from New York named Morgan arrives in town and takes up residence in the family's crumbling boarding house, Louise's acceptance of "the way things are" begins to crumble.
Through conversations with Morgan and firsthand observations, Louise begins to wonder about the morality of the Cheerleaders’ activities—and everything Louise thinks she knows about her mother, her world, and herself will change.
In a starred review, Booklist commented: "Readers will be held fast by the history told from the inside as adult Louise remembers the vicious role of ordinary people."
*School Library Journal (starred review) ; **Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Robert Sharenow is an award-winning writer and television producer. His most recent novel, The Berlin Boxing Club, was awarded the Sydney Taylor Award by the Association of Jewish Libraries and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. He also serves as executive vice president and general manager of Lifetime. He lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and their dog, Lucy.
"To most young readers, 1960 is nearly ancient history, yet the prejudice that Louise views in the Ninth Ward is still part of life today."
— School Library Journal (starred review)
"In his debut novel, television A&E producer Sharenow challenges the view that those Cheerleaders shouting the n-word were just a few crazy freaks."
— Booklist (starred review)
"When 6-year-old Ruby Bridges starts attending William Frantz Elementary in an initial effort to desegregate the school system, Louise and many other white children are yanked out of the school as a sign of parental protest. Louise's mother joins a group of women dubbed 'the Cheerleaders.' These Southern belles spend their mornings on the schoolyard viciously taunting Ruby as she makes her way into the building. The most shocking thing about this extraordinary historical novel is that these details are true."
— Chicago Tribune
"Shows a great deal of courage from a young girl."
— Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
"Sharenow is unflinching in his portrait of bull-headed Southern bigots who punish women with brutal rape, men with immolation, and children with vicious threats in an attempt to pass their own dismal limitations on to future generations."
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"An unflinching look at the violence and hatred that permeated throughout this time in history.”
— Kirkus Reviews