A Tugging String: A Novel About Growing Up During the Civil Rights Era
Author David Greenberg’s father, Jack, was Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and this work of fiction is based on both men’s experiences during the mid-1960s. David worries about his father’s trips to the South to help those who wanted to register to vote and enforce civil rights laws, but he also worries about his prowess at sports and acceptance by peers. The story alternates between David’s childhood in Great Neck, New York and a fictitious family in Selma, Alabama who eventually participate in the march to Montgomery. Thurgood Marshall’s, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, and President Johnson’s involvement are included and add historical context. In both stories, the characters must deal with prejudice and stand up for themselves. The title refers to the feeling one has inside that they must do what is right and seek justice. There is one Jewish character who mentions the synagogue and the Sabbath, otherwise the Jewish content is minimal. This is one of several books about the civil rights movement that demonstrate the involvement of Jews: A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg, whose father was also a civil rights lawyer and As Good As Anybody by Richard Michelson, give similar perspectives on the topic. Greenberg’s book is appropriate for ages 9 – 12, and will be a good choice for reluctant readers.
Kathe Pinchuck, M.L.I.S., is the librarian of Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck, New Jersey. She is currently the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee of the Association of Jewish Libraries.
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