Saturday, January 29, 2011
Devil On My Heels by Joyce McDonald
I'm currently planning a unit for my Grade 7 students on the American Civil Rights movement so I am reading many books set in the 50's and 60's.
Devil on my Heels is set in the middle of this time in Florida. Dove, is a 15 year old girl who lives with her father on his Orange Grove farm. All her life, Dove has played in the orange groves with Gator (a young black boy) and Chase (the boy from the next farm over). Now that Dove is 15 though, she is learning that a friendship between a white girl and a black boy isn't allowed and can be very dangerous. Then there are the feelings she has for Chase. She can't seem to get away from him, but she is also afraid of the ties he and his father have to the Ku Klux Klan.
As Dove learns more about the secrets of her small town and how they treat the people who cook for them and work their fields she becomes very uncomfortable with the unfairness of the situation. When Gator's life is threatened because he is seen being friendly with a white girl, Dove must make a decision that goes against everything her little town believes in. This decision puts her life and those around her at risk.
I really liked this story. I was hoping I could use it as a read aloud for my class, but I think the romance angle might be a little much for the boys in my class. I like how Dove needed to learn the realities of life in the South during the 50's and 60's. The decisions and choices she had to make were painful and scary for her. As I was reading her story, I was caught up in the drama of the time and her life. I love it when I am pulled right into a situation that I have never had to face. It makes me wonder how I would react if faced with this situation.
The way people were treated during this time is so shocking now, yet I know that racism still exists. I'm really hoping that my students can learn about this time through our discussions in class and through reading books like this one. I bought this book on my Kindle, so now I have to figure out how to share it with students.