Review of Defiant: Growing Up in the Jim Crow South

Defiant: Growing Up in the Jim Crow South
by Wade Hudson
Intermediate, Middle School, High School   Crown    272 pp.    g
10/21   978-0-593-12635-6   $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-593-12636-3   $20.99

Co-founder (with his wife, Cheryl Willis Hudson) of the pioneering Black publishing company Just Us Books, Wade Hudson here recalls his childhood and teen years in the small northern Louisiana town of Mansfield in the 1950s and 1960s. Hudson opens and closes the memoir with an account of being arrested on a ginned-up conspiracy charge while he was a student activist at Southern University in Baton Rouge. In between, we see his formative years in Mansfield, where as a seventh grader he notes, “I could count on one hand the number of White kids my age that I had seen.” Church, current events, and baseball (pitcher Vida Blue was a teammate) were Wade’s preoccupations, as well as a growing racial consciousness nurtured by all of the above. The telling is plainspoken and direct, and the town, filled with friends and extended family, is practically a character in itself. It takes a village, indeed. Appended matter includes notes, sources, and a timeline to place Hudson’s story within its tumultuous context.

From the November/December 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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