Deborah Wiles’ Revolution is a rich and engrossing story about the Civil Rights movement, and the summer the Freedom Riders travelled to the South in order to help with voter registration. Here is the back cover copy:
It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded. Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They’re calling it Freedom Summer.
Meanwhile, Sunny can’t help but feel like her house is being invaded, too. She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe. And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool — where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.
Sunny’s problems with her stepmother stem, in part, from her longing to know more about her own mother: why did she leave Sunny? will she ever return? does she miss her daughter as much as Sunny misses her? Gillette, Sunny’s step brother, the one she feels closest to, has troubles of his own to sort through, beginning with his relationship with his volatile father. And then the Freedom Riders come to town, raising questions about fairness, justice, and the right for all people to be treated equally and to have equal opportunities in society.
Sunny’s journey into awareness is described beautifully, especially because the narrative is interspersed with information about the Civil Rights movement and people involved in the dangerous business of travelling to places like Greenwood, Mississippi to try to change the course of history. Revolution would be a wonderful selection for our historical fiction book clubs – I can just imagine the rich and meaningful conversations that would flow once my sixth graders get a chance to dive into this story.