Whistling Past the Graveyard
By Susan Crandall
Gallery Books, 2013. 308 pages.
Starla Claudelle has run away from life with her overly strict grandmother and plans to make her way to her mother whom she hasn’t seen since she was three. But the road from Cayuga Springs, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee is not easy for a nine-year-old, and Starla soon meets more trouble than she bargained for. On the road Starla meets Eula, a black woman traveling with a white baby. Together, Starla and Eula learn a new meaning of friendship and family as they look out for one another on Starla’s journey.
Though this story deals with difficult topics such as abuse, racial inequality, teen pregnancy, and abandonment, the details are toned down due to Starla’s nine-year-old perspective. What really resonates with me is how the story illustrates the transformative power of love in someone’s life. Readers will enjoy Starla’s spit-fire attitude as well as her endearing deep south vernacular. This is a great pick for book club discussions and is now available as a book club set at the library.