A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (June 10, 2008)
Source of book: Review copy from publisher
If there's one book you, your children, and your students should read this summer, it's Shana Burg's debut novel, A Thousand Never Evers.
Set in Kuckachoo, Mississippi in 1963, A Thousand Never Evers is historical fiction told from the point of view of the 12-year-old African American girl, Addie Ann Pickett. Kuckachoo is a town separated by color--"the white side" and "the colored side." Racism runs deep, and the town sheriff may be the biggest racist of them all. When Addie Ann makes fun of a white lady's hat, her brother disappears. On top of not knowing whether or not her brother is alive, an incident with the town garden leaves Addie Ann's Uncle Bump on trial, and Addie Ann must find the courage to save him.
Even though Addie Ann's story is fiction, the novel is interwoven with real incidents, tragedies, and figures from the Civil Rights Movement: the deaths of Medgar Evers and Emmitt Till, the church bombing that killed the four little girls, the struggle for the vote, the ridiculous tests African Americans were required to pass before they could register to vote, the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan, the downright racism African Americans faced every single day, and more.
Through Shana Burg's powerful and emotional writing, you can feel the fear, the injustice, and even the hope that countless many experienced during this dark time in our country's history.
Here's an exerpt from the day Medgar Evers is killed:
"Now Mama shakes her head like she just can't believe this. Medgar guys' dead and gone. 'Lord, you listen to me,' she says. 'You bless Medgar's hardworking, full-of-courage soul.'
After that, how am I supposed to eat? Hen or no hen, my stomach's knotted up knowing someone can get killed for doing heaps of good." (p. 9)
A Thousand Never Evers is also a coming of age story. We see Addie Ann grow from a girl who didn't really think much about "the movement," to one who matures and fights passionately for justice. Without being "preachy," the book sends the message about the importance of standing up for yourself and those around you, preserving your self worth, having the courage to fight for the truth regardless of how frightening the consequences may be, and not judging people based on their outward appearance.
I give this book my highest recommendation and predict that this will be a front runner for the Newbery Medal.
What Other Bloggers are Saying:
Becky's Book Reviews: "Dignity. Taking a stand. Doing what's right. A Thousand Never Evers is the story of one family's stand--one community's stand to unite for what's right, what's just." (Read more...)
Welcome to my Tweendom: "Brilliantly written, A Thousand Never Evers should have a place in every public and school library. " (read more...)
If you have a review of this book, leave a comment with your link, and I'll post it here. Thanks for reading!