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Review of March: Book Three

Lewis_Marchbk3star2 March: Book Three
by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illus. by Nate Powell
Middle School, High School  Top Shelf Productions  254 pp.
8/16    978-1-60309-402-3    $19.99    g

This final volume (March: Book One, rev. 1/14; March: Book Two, rev. 5/15) includes the expected and necessary set pieces from the civil rights movement: the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham and the murder of four young girls; Freedom Summer in Mississippi, from voter registration drives and slain volunteers to Fannie Lou Hamer, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, and the 1964 Democratic Convention; the iconic march from Selma to Montgomery that roused the nation from its complacency; and, finally, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But these events yield to smaller and lesser-known moments of violence, injustice, and helplessness — beatings and lynchings, political and judicial indifference — that are no less painful to read about. Since he was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during this period, Lewis has a unique perspective from which to recall these events, and he does so with intimate familiarity and bracing honesty. As the narrative progresses, there is a palpable sense that the mounting obstacles are not only taking a serious toll on Lewis but that indeed the entire movement is fraying under the strain. Powell’s kinetic, fluid black-and-white illustrations create a relentless cascade of words and images that assaults the senses and underscores the brutality of the period. From Maus to Persepolis, graphic-novel memoirs have accounted for a large share of critical acclaim for the comics format, and now that this trilogy is complete, it can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of them.

From the September/October 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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