Title: Fine: Making Do: Growing up Colored in the Jim Crow South During the Great Depression
Author: Josan Wright Callendar
What's it about?
Nowhere is truly safe when you're a young black person in the deep south during the times of the Jim Crow laws. DeLois is a young high school girl in a family of brothers. She's strong, independent and she's willing to fight for what she deserves...to a point. But she finds herself being escorted to school by her bothers to keep her safe as she passes the white highschool and her school's resources lacking severely. And now, she finds herself growing up in a world where she is less then because the color of her skin but no understanding as to why that is.
Charles is a farm boy who dropped out of school to help his family on their farm to survive. He knows the color of his skin matters out there, but he's been fortunate enough to be in a place he thrives. But when he decides to leave the beaten trail of his family before him and make his own way, his family isn't quit so excited as he is.
Neither young person knows what the world has instore for them, but they do know that to find out, they'll have to survive and that means following the Jim Crow laws weather they are right or not.
Favorite Character: At first I was sure I would say Delois and I do like her. She's strong, smart and is willing to fight when needed. I'm also surprised that DeLois's teacher, Mr. Wilson didn't come out on top here. And, again, I like him, too. He was strong and willing to say and do what needed to be done but he didn't do so with a fearless demeanor. He knew that so much of what he did cold result in consequences unfavorable.
No. Charles landed on top. I know. It kind of surprised me, too. I'm not even sure why he was the one I favored. I can speculate that it had something to do with my own family being farmers but there was just something about him. He was soft and strong. He loved what he did, but knew he needed to experience more and he fought for it. He thought things through but acted quickly and in ways that could appear rash. He respectful and hard working but confident. He was happy to work and to earn his way. It brought him joy and accomplishment. I just liked him.
Least Favorite Character: This is hard because...well...my first instinct is the government because the Jim Crow laws were a lot of words I avoid using here and just makes me mad. But I'm not sure that's really the thing that needs to be said here. I also find myself angry and wanting to point fingers at a number of people in this story because of their ignorant behavior and their racism but I also have to remind myself that, while it's not right and isn't justified, that was culture in those times so to blame them, I also need to blame society and hold them all accountable. And then there's the others I want to point fingers out but this is just the first installment and there's more to come so, while I don't know all the things now, I will eventually. Ugh! How do I pick?
I think I'm going to go with the principal of the white school. The reason for this is because he was nice, respectful and treated those in his school as humans but then he let anyone else walk all over them and do and say whatever he wanted. He never took advantage of all of the teaching moments he saw right in front of him, I"m guessing because he couldn't seen as someone who sympathized or liked people who were a different color then him and that just sickens me. He was just weak and two faced, I'd wager to say he was lying to himself and everyone else, being who ever the people around him wanted rather then who he really was and I just can't back him for that.
Favorite Part: The end. I know, you hate when I do that, but it was a feel good, happy, hope filled moment that I just found endearing and adorable.
I could talk for hours about the racism in this book and how stupid it was (mostly because I don't understand that mindset) but I'm not sure it needs to be said because, well, 1. I can hate it all I want, but the reality is, it existed. It was the way some people lived and 2. because it's obvious that's going to be a topic in this book just from the title. I will say, though, that I went into it expecting more racism and violence then we saw and I appreciated that. I appreciated the settle ways that the Jim Crow laws effected these families that didn't always show up in violence or obvious ways like how Dee Dee had to go to a school so far away and how they couldn't just go to the hospital when they needed medical care. It wasn't all violence but it was real and ingrained in people's lives. The people who lived during these laws, they were effected everyday even if they didn't realize it. It didn't have to be violence or hate speech or even being a black person surrounded by white people to be absolutely effected by these laws and society.
I liked the dynamic of both Charles and Dee Dee (DeLois)'s families. They were both different and in some ways total opposites, but there was something sweet and real about them. You get the feeling that no matter what, they've got each other's back even if they don't always agree or get along. There's just something about those kinds of relationship dynamics that I'm partial to.
However, I do feel like I read over 300 pages and not much has really happened yet. I know that there is more to come and this was just Vol. 1 but I wish I kind of wish the print would have been a little smaller (the font just felt really big in my copy) and we cold have seen a little more of the events that take place after the book ends. In many ways, I kind of feel like, while I totally appreciate seeing the back story of our two characters, and maybe I'm wrong, but the book ended about where it should have started. Maybe all of this build up will play more pivotal roles in latter books but to just have the first book in hand,I can't help but feel the incompleteness of this story. Like all I got was backstory without really getting the context.
With all of that said, I didn't hate it. I did enjoy the parts that I read and I felt like it set a foundation for the characters. I do feel like there's a sense of knowing them that I'm excited to delve back into when I get the next books, however still don't really know what to expect for the yet to be volumes. I know one thing. I'm not sure this book gave much direction to the story and it saddens me because I can't really pinpoint the perfect solution to how I feel, or, it seems, the right words to really explain it.
I give this book a
10 text books
But that's just what I think. What did you think? Did I miss something? Did you hate it? Let us know what you thought in the comments.