A Tug­ging String: A Nov­el About Grow­ing Up Dur­ing the Civ­il Rights Era

David T. Greenberg
  • Review
By – February 15, 2012
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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