Whistling Past the Graveyard (Hardcover)

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Virgie's Staff Pick (July 2013): This story takes you back to 1963 Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement. Travel with 9 year old Starla as she runs away from home and befriends a young black woman. Take a glimpse of 1963 Mississippi through her innocent eyes, and experience her wisdom which seems to surpass the thinking of many adults around her. Learn first hand, what it means to “whistle past the graveyard.” As I finished this captivating novel, I begin to wonder if it was Starla’s maturity … or innocence … that allowed her to have such perceptive thinking, far wiser than other adults in the story.

— From Virgie's Picks

July 2013 Indie Next List

“Fall in love with spunky Starla Claudelle, who runs away from a strict grandmother in 1963 Mississippi to find the mother she hasn't seen since she was three. As she journeys with a black woman named Eula, Starla has her eyes opened to larger issues of race and segregation. This wonderful novel will be devoured by book clubs and will cause every parent who finishes it to immediately find and hug their children. -Jill Hendrix, Fiction Addiction”
— Jill Hendrix, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC


From an award-winning author comes a wise and tender coming-of-age story about a nine-year-old girl who runs away from her Mississippi home in 1963, befriends a lonely woman suffering loss and abuse, and embarks on a life-changing roadtrip.

In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old spitfire Starla Claudelle runs away from her strict grandmother's Mississippi home. Starla hasn't seen her momma since she was three--that's when Lulu left for Nashville to become a famous singer. Starla's daddy works on an oil rig in the Gulf, so Mamie, with her tsk-tsk sounds and her bitter refrain of "Lord, give me strength," is the nearest thing to family Starla has. After being put on restriction yet again for her sassy mouth, Starla is caught sneaking out for the Fourth of July parade. She fears Mamie will make good on her threat to send Starla to reform school, so Starla walks to the outskirts of town, and just keeps walking. . . . If she can get to Nashville and find her momma, then all that she promised will come true: Lulu will be a star. Daddy will come to live in Nashville, too. And her family will be whole and perfect. Walking a lonely country road, Starla accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman traveling alone with a white baby. The trio embarks on a road trip that will change Starla's life forever. She sees for the first time life as it really is--as she reaches for a dream of how it could one day be.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781476707723
ISBN-10: 1476707723
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: July 2nd, 2013
Pages: 320
Language: English