Fire from the Rock by Sharon Draper




Five stars:  We need to remember the hate.  Read to learn what others experienced...the fear, the anger, the violence, and the despair.   Remember and Learn

Imagine being hated, beaten and cursed, because of the amount of pigment in your skin - because of your race, your ethnicity, or your religion. 

Fire from the Rock is fiction, but the events in the book reflect the history of Little Rock, Arkansas and the racism rampant in the South during that time period.  In 1954, a landmark decision was made by the Supreme Court in Brown v/s the Board of Education.  The ruling stated forced segregation of schools based on race denied equal educational opportunities.

Though the setting of Draper's book is 1957, three years after segregation became illegal, many citizens, both African-American and Causcasian, were still attempting to prevent students from other races to attend school together.

Sylvia Patterson never would have imagined herself involved in the center of this race controversy.  She was a pretty, smart girl who made good grades, loved her family, never got in trouble, and had a happy life.  Next year, she would be entering high school, and she already had a dreamy, romantic boyfriend.

When Central High School is forced to allow African-Americans to attend for the very first time, Sylvia is handpicked to be one of the chosen group.  At first, she's flattered and thinks of this opportunity as an honor - recognition for her diligence and her sensible personality.  Soon, though, Sylvia finds her life in constant turmoil. Sylvia and her siblings are physically attacked, stalked, threatened, and her parents find their jobs in jeopardy. Sylvia's boyfriend, Reggie, and her brother, Gary, both believe its time to stand up for themselves and fight back.  Is this the answer?  Or will standing up lead to their permanent downfall?

Will Sylvia become an advocate for racial equality and embrace the opportunity to be provided the best educational opportunities possible - despite the hardships she will face in a predominately white high school?  Is losing Reggie, leaving her friends behind, and the threatened violence towards her family worth the risk?

Sylvia knows there are no easy answers, and no matter what decision she makes, she will lose and sacrifice.

 Important book to read - Sylvia's experiences and words reflect the helplessness and shame others must have felt during this time period, and reminds us all of the cruelty inflicted upon people of other races- hatred projected in acts of violence and spiteful words, all because of the color of their skin.

You can learn more about Little Rock, Arkansas, the real Central High School, and the first African-American students to attend (called the Little Rock Nine) by watching video clips in United Streaming.  See Mrs. Symborski for the passcode or to view on the media center computers.


Little Rock Nine:  The first African-American students at Central High School form a study group