In 1957, the governor of Arkansas blocked nine African-American students from entering school, to protest the order of desegregation. They did enter and attend school, after considerable intervention and community disruption, and personal difficulty. These students were known as the Little Rock Nine, and this book is set in 1958 - the following year, when schools were closed, rather than integrated. Liz is a light-skinned African-American girl who impresses Marlee with her confidence, but can their friendship continue when it becomes clear to everyone that Liz isn't white?
The best part about this book is that the character relationships are so satisfying within the layers of the historical elements - the characterization is central and not secondary to the history. That said, the history is fascinating - hundreds of students were affected by the decision to close schools, and the courage required for students and families to break barriers in communities so committed to segregation is nothing if not admirable. This book is the best kind of historical fiction - well-researched and completely driven by characters who could only exist in this place and time period.
The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.
**Questions coming soon**
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