In a racially polarized classroom in 1970 Alabama, Lu’s talent for running track makes her a new best friend — and tests her mettle as she navigates the school’s social cliques.
Miss Garrett’s classroom is like every other at our school. White kids sit on one side and black kids on the other. I’m one of the few middle-rowers who split the difference.
Sixth-grader Lu Olivera just wants to keep her head down and get along with everyone in her class. Trouble is, Lu’s old friends have been changing lately — acting boy crazy and making snide remarks about Lu’s newfound talent for running track. Lu’s secret hope for a new friend is fellow runner Belinda Gresham, but in 1970 Red Grove, Alabama, blacks and whites don’t mix. As segregationist ex-governor George Wallace ramps up his campaign against the current governor, Albert Brewer, growing tensions in the state — and in the classroom — mean that Lu can’t stay neutral about the racial divide at school. Will she find the gumption to stand up for what’s right and to choose friends who do the same?
It’s not always easy standing up for what is right, but sometimes, you just can’t stay in the middle…Young readers will relate to Lu as she navigates friendships, first love, and politics, cheering her on to the finish line. An important and relevant story that will make kids stop and take a look at the world around them. —Kirkus Reviews
Readers will be immediately transported to early 1970s Alabama in this story about Lu Olivera, a sixth- grader who finds herself drawn ever more deeply into the civil rights movement and politics at her school…This story is inspired by the author’s experiences, and it shows in introspective Lu’s observations of people around her. An excellent read for any budding activist or history buff, as well as pretty much any kid who likes a story about kids finding their gumption. —Booklist
Readers will root for this spirited protagonist to find her moral footing in this solid, enjoyable work of historical fiction. —Publishers Weekly