Jan 16, 2012

Review - The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell +Giveaway

The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell
January 17th, 2012 by First Second Books

Set in Houston, Texas, Silence of Our Friends takes place during a time where racial tensions are high and people's patience is at an all-time low - 1968. Jack is a local television newsman assigned to report on "racial news." After a police officer is shot and killed during a non-violent rally at Texas State University, the town is in an uproar and people start pointing fingers. Actually, all fingers are pointing to five innocent African-American men. Jack and Larry, an African-American professor who recently lost his job on campus, befriend each other at an unlikely time and the two gentleman try to restore hope in their community.

The illustrations in this novel are moving, to say the least. If you remove every single word throughout the entire book, you would still be able to follow the story quite easily. Nearly 200 pages of striking black and white drawings are vivid and in such great detail that you will spend time pouring over the images. We are taken from the rally, to the newsroom, the rodeo, and finally to the trial. Great settings lend to some brilliant drawings. The story had a shocking ending and I was a little blown away for a few minutes. I questioned the timing of the ending, but it does come full circle when you think about the title of the book.

Strong language, racial slurs, and violence place this in a high school and public library. Necessary? Absolutely, based on the subject, and I'm sure a lot worse was said and done that day. Based on actual events, younger readers might not be able to decipher what is fictional, but I promise this story will lead to additional research and readings of the time period. The Author's Note is informative and insightful, giving us a personal look at the color line in Texas. 

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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