Although I have read in shorts bursts all week, working on Crow by Barbara Wright, today I finally had a chance to sit and read uninterrupted for a while and really become involved in this novel. And as I raced to the ending, I was totally absorbed with the unfolding story based on the riots in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898.
Moses is eleven years old in 1898, becoming aware of racism in his town. He dreams of owning his own bike but knows that there is not enough money for one. His father is an educated man (and also very wise), working for a Negro daily newspaper, and one of four Negro aldermen. I was impressed with Wilmington's acceptance of equal rights for colored people and the many people Moses knew who held professional positions within their community. And yet, trouble is brewing. Wright writes of the coup d'etat that occurred, causing the black middle class in Wilmington to be destroyed. Moses and his family are at the center of this story, and while Moses is trying to navigate the normal problems of growing up, there are bigger problems that soon overshadow the desire for a bike.
Moses' parents have tried to protect him from the reality of what many in Wilmington are faced with. Lynchings, rape, and a group of white men who try to remove any colored man from positions of power are topics that Moses is hearing more about and asking questions about. While the product description indicates this novel is intended for ages eight and up, I feel as though this book is better suited to an audience slightly older, perhaps ages 10 and up, because of the more mature content and inferences that may be lost on a younger audience.
As I closed this book, I instantly understood the rave reviews Crow is receiving even before it's release. Crow is an important book, telling the story of a little know piece of history that comes to life through Moses' voice.