My Mother the Cheerleader

Robert Sharenow, Author, Rob Sharenow, Author . HarperTeen $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-114896-5

Set in 1960, Sharenow’s debut novel begins just after the Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional and Ruby Bridges became the first black student to attend William J. Frantz Elementary in New Orleans’s Ninth Ward. Louise Collins is an overworked, 13-year-old loner who helps her alcoholic mother run a Ninth Ward rooming house, Rooms on Desire. After her mother pulls her out of school to protest integration, Louise has more time to assist with the boarders. (Louise notes that “my first reaction to the news that William Frantz was to be integrated was to wonder why the Negro kids wanted to go to such a crummy school.”) Additionally, Louise’s mother joins The Cheerleaders, a group of women who line up at the entrance of the school every morning and verbally harass first-grader Ruby, screaming racial epithets and even threatening her life. Into this tumultuous environment comes Morgan Miller, an attractive, educated book editor who resides in New York City but was raised in New Orleans. Miller has come to make peace with his brother, but he stirs up romantic feelings in both Louise and her mother and gets them to slowly reconsider the racial attitudes they’ve heretofore accepted. Through inquisitive Louise’s perspective, readers get a wrenching look at the era’s turmoil and pervasive racism. As secrets about Louise’s family are revealed and Miller’s attitudes attract the attention of local Klan members, teens should remain riveted right through the devastating conclusion to Sharenow’s promising work of historical fiction. Ages 12-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-06-114898-9
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