The Lions of Little Rock: A Book Review


The Lions of Little Rock

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Summary: It’s 1958 in Little Rock, Arkansas, a year after the Little Rock Nine, a group of black students, were enrolled at the local white high school. Twelve year old Marlee is preparing for the new school year and working up the nerve to say a word or two in class. She has little friends, when she meets Liz, the bold and brave new girl. Liz even stood up for herself in front of snobby and self-absorbed Sally! Liz and Marlee quickly become friends, working together on their history project and helping Marlee overcome her fear of speaking. But, one day, Marlee walks into school to find Liz completely and utterly gone. Rumors are circulating that she was a Negro passing for a white, but Marlee could care less. She just wants her and Liz to stay best friends. Fighting against segregation, the girls are determined to keep their friendship alive. However, with amount of danger they put their families in, is it worth the risk?

My Thoughts: I’ve missed my monthly dose of historical fiction :) Besides the rave reviews and the cover, {notice how one bird is white and the other is black?} I picked it up because the story occurred during one of my favorite time periods, the 1950’s. {my other favorite is the 1960’s} This is a subject that I haven’t learned about in school, so it was a new topic for me.  Levine is a fabulous writer, and I can’t wait to read her other book, The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, about the relationship between blacks and whites in the early 1900’s. She’s clearly knowledgable about the subject, so the information and history aspect didn’t interfere with the story at all. I guess what I’m trying too say is that although there is plenty of history and information to be learned in the book, everything fits within the storyline. It is not history with a story, it’s a story with history. These characters were such a delight to read about! Marlee is one of my favorite characters, and I loved reading about her growth throughout the book. It was so nice to see her with Liz, and their connection was quite evident. I thought it would have been interesting to write the same story, but with Liz’s point of view. Just a thought… Liz was spunky, something I admire. She, however much I love Marlee, is the more memorable of the two girls. Like I said before, their friendship was fully developed, and I felt their pain with what they were going through. I can’t imagine not being able to see my friends because of something as silly as the color of their skin. Near the end, Marlee’s family grew closer, and it made me so happy to see them work together! Marlee’s mother, especially, from a women against integration, to someone against segregation. Yay :) This may be a children’s book, but it deals with some heavy topics. The people against integration did some awful things, all because they disliked blacks. Red, JT’s older brother,  is an incredible jerk! It makes me so sad and angry because they’re were actually people like him. He reminded me of the brother {his name escapes me at the moment} in Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me. I despised him, and I HATED how JT did nothing. He just stood there and watched, while his older brother tried to kill Liz and her family. He didn’t stick up for Marlee when Red made fun of her. Anyhoo, that just goes to show what an outstanding writer Kirsten Levine is. I SO hope that this will win an award. It deserves it!

Pros: A good story, developed characters, and a truly wonderful historical fiction.

Cons: Nothing.

Heads Up: I hate saying some of the words in here, but it is relevant to the story. There is some violence, involving dynamite.

Overall: I give it 5 {*****} stars. I recommend it for ages 11 and up.

Bella :)


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