Book Review: Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

May 21, 2013 § 6 Comments

Title: Whistling Past the Graveyard | Author: Susan Crandall
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Family, Literary Fiction, Historical
Format: ARC e-Book 
Date Finished: May 19, 2013
CoffeeNCrackers Rating: 5 Cups of Coffee

When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla’s fear that her grandmother, Mamie, will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride,with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville. As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla’s eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 southern segregation. Through talks with Eula, reconnecting with her parents, and encountering a series of surprising misadventures, Starla learns to let go of long-held dreams and realizes family is forged from those who will sacrifice all for you, no matter if bound by blood or by the heart. – NetGalley

My Review
A nine year old, Starla Claudelle, a hot-headed girl thinks that her strict paternal grandmother, Momie, didn’t want her. Afraid of being punished after breaking the rules set by her grandmother, Starla takes a short-minded decision to run away from home. She’s going to Nashville to her mother who walked out from her life since she’s a little baby. So, this book is about Starla’s journey to find her mother and to live a happy life with her. Being told from a 9-year old girl’s point of view, the story is narrated in a very honest and straightforward language. Though it is simple and predictable, I really enjoyed the story as the author did a very brilliant job to bring the readers to see things through the eyes of an innocent young girl. 
Starla is a very adorable character. To have such a dangerous and challenging adventures, I almost can’t believe that she is 9-year old. When Starla meets the black woman, Eula, and a white baby she called James, the story gets more interesting as the three of them go on journey together. Along the ride to Nashville, lots of things happened and most them put me at the edge of my sit. Throughout the story, the readers can see these two characters connect with a special relationship, protecting each other, and both of them growing to be more matured. Not only the main characters are well developed, the other peripheral characters also makes the story more fluid and believable.

I like the fact that instead of using a modern setting, Crandall highlights the southern Mississippi during the 60’s and she did a brilliant job playing with the setting which I feel like I myself is experiencing the era and would love to be part of the story. At the same time Crandall highlights the southern racial segregation during the 60’s through Eula’s life story. It is very eye-opening, and like Starla, I also keep on questing why the thick wall is build between the races when everyone should be live together in harmony? But still, racism is a very sensitive subject even in my country, Malaysia, as we are living in a multi-racial country.

All in all, this book is a very inspiring one. Being told with honesty, readers will be seeing the big world through the eyes of a little girl who has the courage and determination the act based on what she believes the “best” for her. I recommend this book to everyone.

*FOOTNOTE: I received and ARC e-book copy from Netgalley but it doesn’t affect what I think about this book as this is an honest review. 

*FOOTNOTE 2: This review is linked up to Book Reviews Wednesday party hosted by Cym Lowell.


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