for My Mother the Cheerleader
by Robert Sharenow
Louise Collins is the thirteen-year-old daughter of a cheerleader: her mother is one of the women who jeers at six-year-old Ruby Bridges each morning when she walks into William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. Like most white children, Louise is taking part in a boycott of the school to protest desegregation. Most days, while her mother is at the school making a scene, Louise is at home working in her mother’s boarding house, where she cleans, does dishes, and waits to welcome the few guests who come to stay. She’s intrigued by a cultured, intellectual guest from New York, Morgan Miller, who always treats her with respect and who seems genuinely interested in her opinions of the books she’s read. Louise’s mother, who regularly throws herself at the single male guests, is intrigued by Morgan Miller, too. But Mr. Miller is different from the others: he doesn’t take advantage of her flirtations as other men do. On a snooping expedition to find out more about this gentle man, Louise learns that Mr. Miller is both Jewish and a Communist, facts that challenge everything she has learned about the social order. Characterizations of Louise, her mother, and Morgan Miller are particularly strong in a story told in Louise’s sardonic voice. This engaging, unusual novel set in 1960 offers a point of view not often seen in literature for youth about the Civil Rights Movement. (Ages 11–14)
CCBC Choices 2008. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008. Used with permission.
Acts of courage come in all shapes and sizes.
In the tumultuous New Orleans of 1960, thirteen-year-old Louise Collins finds her world turned upside down when a stranger from the North arrives at her mother's boarding-house. Louise's mother spends her mornings at the local elementary school with a group of women known as the Cheerleaders, who harass the school's first black student, six-year-old Ruby Bridges, as she enters the building. One day a Chevy Bel Air with a New York license plate pulls up, and out steps Morgan Miller, a man whose mysterious past is eclipsed by his intellect and open-manner—qualities that enchant mother and daughter alike. For the first time, Louise feels as if someone cares what she thinks, even if she doesn't know what she believes. But when the reason for Morgan's visit is called into question, everything Louise thinks she knows about her mother, her world, and herself will change.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.