cover image March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine

March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine

Melba Pattillo Beals, illus. by Frank Morrison. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-328-88212-7

In a visceral and vital memoir, journalist and activist Beals (Warriors Don’t Cry), who integrated Central High School as one of the Little Rock Nine, recounts growing up African-American in 1940s Arkansas “under the umbrella of the rules and traditions of my oppression.” Her grandmother encouraged Beals to trust in God, but the Ku Klux Klan members who marauded their streets by night filled her with constant dread. Beals’s rage at the injustice permeating her daily life—and what she perceived as black adults’ passive compliance—led her to ask, “Why not fight back?” Chilling examples of violence underscore the traumatizing environment: at age five, Beals witnessed Klansmen hang a man from church rafters during a prayer meeting, and as a teen she barely escaped rape after being unwittingly brought to a KKK gathering. Beals writes openly about her feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, though her courage and resolve are just as evident. It’s a no-holds-barred reflection of the physical and psychological toll that prejudice, discrimination, and hate take on a young life. Ages 10–up. [em]Author’s agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Jan.) [/em]