There’s something about “coming of age” books set in the past that I’m a sucker for. I don’t know what it is, I only know that I really love reading them. And Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall is an absolute joy to read.
Set in the ’60s in rural Mississippi, Starla is nine years old and living with her strict grandmother. Her father works away, and her mother left when Starla was quite young, to find a career as a singer in Nashville. After being grounded from going to the Fourth of July fireworks, Starla decides to run away, to find her mother and bring her home to her father, and become a “family” once again.
And so her adventures begin.
Your heart is absolutely breaking the closer Starla gets to finding her mother. You know exactly what is going to happen and you just don’t want to be there when it does. Starla is a joy of a character. A young feisty girl who knows what she wants – her family together again – and will do whatever she can to get it. Along the way, she hooks up with Eula, who has her own secrets and her own journey. A friendship develops between this black woman and white child, and Starla starts to have her own eyes opened to segregation. Things she’d never realized or even really thought much about before.
Both Eula and Starla are on a journey and their adventures along the way can break your heart and make you laugh with joy.
A superb book and one I can highly recommend.