Whistling Past the Graveyard

Whistling Past the Graveyard

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
9
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From an award-winning author comes a wise and tender coming-of-age story about a nine-year-old girl who runs away from her Mississippi home in 1963, befriends a lonely woman suffering loss and abuse, and embarks on a life-changing roadtrip.

In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old spitfire Starla Claudelle runs away from her strict grandmother's Mississippi home. Starla hasn't seen her momma since she was three--that's when Lulu left for Nashville to become a famous singer. Starla's daddy works on an oil rig in the Gulf, so Mamie, with her tsk-tsk sounds and her bitter refrain of "Lord, give me strength," is the nearest thing to family Starla has. After being put on restriction yet again for her sassy mouth, Starla is caught sneaking out for the Fourth of July parade. She fears Mamie will make good on her threat to send Starla to reform school, so Starla walks to the outskirts of town, and just keeps walking. . . . If she can get to Nashville and find her momma, then all that she promised will come true: Lulu will be a star. Daddy will come to live in Nashville, too. And her family will be whole and perfect. Walking a lonely country road, Starla accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman traveling alone with a white baby. The trio embarks on a road trip that will change Starla's life forever. She sees for the first time life as it really is--as she reaches for a dream of how it could one day be.
Publisher: New York : Gallery Books, 2013.
Edition: First Gallery Books hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781476707723
1476707723
Characteristics: 308 pages ;,24 cm

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n
nancysgatewood
Aug 23, 2016

Great book, very uplifting and keeps you reading.

v
vitareader
Aug 30, 2015

Starla is girl from a small town and since it is 1963 pre -internet. She has only the knowledge and beliefs of those around her, though she does rebel at many of these. Ignorance brings about truth and a knowledge she would never have had if her grandmother had not been so mean and if her father had not lied about Starla's mom . She runs away and the world opens up to her in totally new ways, not all of them good as she is almost murdered twice. Starla sees the consequences of segregation on someone she actually knows and comes to love.
It is a coming of age story and a lesson in acceptance.
It is an good if somewhat predictable read.

b
barbara1942
Jan 09, 2015

Good book!

r
rdw39
Sep 03, 2014

This was a surprising book and a very delightful one. Starla is a very determined young girl, & the author does a wonderful job of bringing out her character & making the reader enjoy her adventures. I could easily recommend this book to all my reading friends.

s
squirrelee
Jun 23, 2014

A great summer read! I loved it!!

m
maipenrai
Jan 18, 2014

*** 1/2 stars The summer of 1963 begins like any other for nine-year-old Starla Claudelle. Born to teenage parents in Mississippi, Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother, Mamie, whose worst fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother. Starla hasn?t seen her momma since she was three, but is convinced that her mother will keep her promise to take Starla and her daddy to Nashville, where her mother hopes to become a famous singer?and that one day her family will be whole and perfect.
When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla?s fear that 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. Great characters. Great lesson on the definition of love. Recommend!

b
Bearwomyn
Oct 04, 2013

One of my top ten reads this year. This is a brilliant book. While it is a good story, an engaging quick read, the social implications/revelations/abominations are graceful, critical and "hearable", in my view, because they come from the thoughts of a child. Down south, a young white girl - Starla, bright, spirited and precocious is bone-tired of her domineering grandmother, of whose care she is in. She runs away...without really planning to, or thinking it through. She just begins to walk. Along the road she meets a middle aged black woman who takes her in, along with the other white child, a baby, that she, well, sorta 'stole.' Together they take an journey through the deep south during the times of white-water-fountains, lunch-counter-sit-ins, blacks-to-the-back-of-the-bus experiences. Our young lady learns how dangerous skin color can be, the absurdities, the realities. We listen to her mind tangled with questions, outrages, confusion...very much thoughts I believe many of us adults may have...presented with such wholesome simplicity that it is heart wrenching. We have an absent oil-rig-working-daddy, murder, swamps, shut doors, evil eyes, a baby in a suitcase...a grand ol' oprey mama, worn shoes, high fevers, cold nights under the stars, fear, love and wonder. Our girl is courageous. She made me proud. She squeezed my heart. My man and I both read this book and we both were moved to tears in the end pages, a rarity for both of us. Beautifully done. Well well worth it. Will be thinking about this book for a long long time.

_ "My daddy says that when you do somethin' to distract you from your worstest fears, it's like whistlin' past the graveyard. You know, making a racket to keep the scaredness and the ghosts away. He says that's how we get by sometimes."

b
becker
Sep 26, 2013

This was a nice coming of age story with a likeable sassy little nine year old as the protaganist. It will appeal to those you who enjoy southern fiction or a nice clean story. My only complaint is that I found it lacking in depth but it was an easy entertaining book for those that like a lighter read.

MEDINASTORYTIME Sep 11, 2013

JH

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