This is an interesting Young Adult book about the struggles the African descendants had when they first integrated white schools in the US in the 1950s. If it had stayed on topic I might well have been giving five stars, unfortunately the impact was lost with the introduction of a homosexual element, and the book became about two issues, each diluting the other.
A group of ten black youngsters are the first to join the exclusively white Jefferson High. They had all been happy, high achievers in their previous all-black school, but find themselves relegated to the remedial classes in Jefferson High. They are constantly heckled, nudged and worse, but their parents encourage them to persevere in the name of integration.
The novel covers their first year in the school and we follow the ten students through to graduation. How many of them can take the pressure?
Sarah is one of the two narrators, she joins the school with her younger sister, Ruth. The second narrator is Linda, a 'popular' white girl, whose father is one of the most outspoken opponents of integration. They are forced to undertake a French project together and both reluctantly learn a lot from each other. Both are pawns of their parents, but can they shake off these influences and do what is truly right for them?
Similar children must have endured such treatments throughout the States, as they stood up for their rights to a good education and fought for their peers in the future. It was horrendous how unwavering their opponents were, never easing off for an entire year. The book left me with a profound respect for them all, whether they each succeeded, or not.