Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan CrandallExpected Publication: July 2, 2013
Format: E-ARC provided by Edelweiss
Publisher: Galley Books
Summary via GoodreadsThe 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.
My ThoughtsWhistling Past the Graveyard is just one of those books that will stay with you forever. It’s funny, witty, great characters and will no doubt touch your heart. Starla, the mainly character is nine years old and a spitfire if there was ever one. She’s sassy and takes nothing from nobody, not even her grandmother who bumps heads with at every chance they can. One day after deciding she can’t take it anymore Sharla decides she will run off and find her mother who left her years ago to become a singer. That one action changes her whole life and from then on sets off a series of actions she could never imagine.
She meets Eula, and African American woman who helps her along the way. However when they go to Eula’s house her husband is less pleased to find out they have company. He is an awful man who beats Eula and wants to kill Starla. One night Starla decides to escape and while Eula husband’s decides to end Starla’s life Eula kills him to save both of them. Needless to say they go on the run and Eula vows to take Starla to Nashville to find her mom.
In series of events that lead them to a small town, Starla starts to learn how cruel the world is in the 60’s south. Starla is forced to realize how not everyone is tolerate of all people. They are two unlikely people together who find a way to help each other out.
Once they reach Nashville Starla is hit hard with the fact that the fantasies she had of her mother are far from the truth. She’s isn’t a famous singer just a woman who didn’t want her child. Starla’s heart is torn beyond repair and the only one she wants to comfort her is Eula. By the end her one action of running away Starla has grown way beyond her years. She was faced with many hard facts in her journey, but once home is thankful for all that she does have.
This book is just a masterpiece in my eyes. It’s one family, loyalty and family and shows that all those things don’t necessarily have to do with being blood related. It will make you laugh and shed a tear all at the same time. If you read any book this year make an effort to read this one.