Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sources of Light by Margaret McMullan

All you have to know now it that a camera is like your eye. To focus, keep one eye closed while you're looking with the other. It brings everything closer....You can hide behind a camera.
It's 1962 and the heat of Jackson, Mississippi, holds more than a potential romance with the wrong kind of boy for fourteen-year-old Sam. There's also the hand-me-down dresses and bobby socks from cousin Tine. There's the gift from her mother's new friend, Perry--a black Asahi Pentax camera. There's their stoic maid, Willa Mae. There are lunch counter sit-ins and black voter registration drives that turn violent.
In a world that sees only in black and white, this is the year Sam learns to use her camera to look for the shades of gray.
I don't usually read historical fiction, but I'm so glad I took this exception. It was short and, maybe sweet's not the word, but it was impacting anyway. It was set in that struggling, agonizing limbo when times are trying to change and people aren't. The themes made it really compelling and let you get completely immersed in the sad truth of the time. I liked the characters--they weren't especially charismatic at first, but they really started to grow on me and by the end of the book I was rooting for them. The book isn't one of those ones where everybody ends up happy-go-lucky in the end and skips into the sunset, but it was achingly realistic and very eye-opening and well-written. It's really worth it to read it; I definitely recommend. It's at Kettleson, you should really try it out.

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