Review of Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case

powell_loving vs virginiaLoving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case
by Patricia Hruby Powell; illus. by Shadra Strickland
Middle School, High School    Chronicle    260 pp.
2/17    978-1-4521-2590-9    $21.99

Organized chronologically, the alternating first-person narratives, written in free verse, begin in 1952 as Mildred Jeter enters sixth grade at the “colored” school; six years her senior and a dropout from the white high school, Richard Loving works as a bricklayer. Their teenage romance grows into a marriage that violated Virginia’s interracial marriage ban. The Supreme Court took up the case in 1967, resulting in a unanimous decision: anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. The Lovings’ case helped remove overt racial discrimination from the laws of many states. As expressed by Mildred, the outcome was more personal than political: “I’d like to forget a lot / about the last nine years. / All, but what is precious to me— / my family— / our kids growing up / with their daddy / and me.” Strickland’s energetic drawings capture many personal moments, including early years going to the movies and to dances — all relatable experiences for a YA audience. Interviews Powell conducted with family and friends of the Lovings add an impressive level of detail, and vivid depiction of the social environment is accomplished through ample primary source material — full-page period photos, quotes from civil rights leaders (and segregationists), and newspaper reports.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Ernie Cox
Ernie Cox
Ernie Cox is the teacher-librarian at Prairie Creek Intermediate School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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