My Selma: True Stories of a Southern Childhood at the Height of the Civil Rights Movement

Farrar. Jan. 2023. 240p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374390235.
Gr 5 Up–Brown started writing and telling stories of her childhood as a young Black girl in Selma, AL, and formed them into this book. These accounts range from the quotidian (receiving a new Christmas bicycle and fighting with her cousin), to powerful recollections of experiencing the greater civil rights struggle as a child (Brown going with her mother to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak and the arrest of her siblings at a protest). These entries are episodic in nature and do not form a cohesive narrative as in a traditional autobiography. While it is mostly effective as an episodic memoir, the compilation can feel disjointed. The prose is casual and lyrical, drawing from the rich tradition of Southern storytelling, speaking, and preaching. Poetry and song lyrics interspersed with the text add depth. There are allusions to violence against protestors and a few incidents that happen outside of the main action, with only the aftermath witnessed and described by Brown.
VERDICT This collection of stories sets the Civil Rights Movement in the context of a child’s family life, providing insight for modern readers to understand both the movement and the realities of life for African Americans in the Jim Crow South.

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