Greenwood, Mississippi was invaded in the summer of 1964. The invaders were called agitators by the locals. They called themselves “Freedom Fighters.” White college students from around the country joined forces with African-American civil rights leaders to register voters. In the midst of the racial tension is 12-year-old Sunny who is experiencing tension at home as well. Her father has remarried. She’s not happy about sharing her home with a new step-family. Racist hatred reaches a boiling point and Sunny and her step-brother Gillette are eye-witnesses to some of the violence that erupts. Confused and alarmed, the kids have a hard time deciding what is right and what is wrong when their trusted adults offer conflicting opinions about desegregation.
This unique historical fiction is stuffed with pages of photographs, letters, newspaper articles, song lyrics, and posters giving the book a documentary feel. Wiles does such a great job of setting the scene, I felt like I had ridden back to 1964 in a time machine. Facing the uncomfortable truth about segregation in the South was almost too hard to read. I was tempted to close the book. I probably would have if I hadn’t been so enthralled in Sunny’s story that I had to keep reading for her sake.
I highly recommend REVOLUTION to 12-year-olds and up. It should be, and probably will be, on school districts’ recommended reading lists. 2015 National Book Award finalist and Golden Kite Award for fiction.