Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
It’s Mississippi in the summer of 1955, and thirteen-year-old Rose Lee Carter can’t wait to move north. But for now, she’s living with her sharecropper grandparents on a white man’s cotton plantation.
Then, one town over, a fourteen-year-old African American boy, Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. When Till’s murderers are unjustly acquitted, Rose realizes that the South needs a change . . . and that she should be part of the movement.
The story of Emmett Till is one that is pivotal in the beginnings of the civil rights movement but is not often included in histories geared to younger audiences.
I first became acquainted with it when a college professor assigned me to read a work of fiction and a work of non-fiction about the same event, by the same author. (In case you were wondering, I read Mississippi Trial, 1955 and Getting Away With Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case by Chris Crowe.) I was both shocked and morbidly fascinated by the story of a young black boy from Chicago who was brutally murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman while visiting family in Mississippi.
I’m glad to see another historical fiction written about the subject, and Linda Williams Jackson’s writing is beautiful. Rose Lee is feisty and engaging, and the scene with her dancing in front of the mirror is cringe-worthy in the most wonderful way.
My biggest complaint is that the other characters lack the same depth. Her Grandmother, Ma Pearl was so nasty as to be unbelievable and even made me roll my eyes on occasion. I have a feeling Midnight Without a Moon will quickly become a more of a favorite of librarians and middle school history teachers than middle-grade readers themselves. Still, it is a good book about a subject that is just as relevant today as it was then.