“Night on Fire” by Ronald Kidd
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Genre: YA, Children’s Fiction, Historical
Page Length: 288 pages (electronic review copy)
Thirteen-year-old Billie Sims is restless. From the front porch of her house in Anniston, Alabama, she watches the Greyhound bus whiz by every day and imagines where it’s going. As the Civil Rights Movement gathers momentum across the country, Billie can’t help but feel stuck in a stubborn town too set in its ways. So when she learns that the Freedom Riders, a group of peace activists protesting segregation on interstate buses, will be traveling through Anniston, she thinks change is finally coming. But what starts as angry grumbles soon turns to brutality.
Through her own decisions and actions and a few unlikely friendships, Billie is about to come to grips with the deep-seated prejudice of those she though she knew, and with her own inherent racism she didn’t even know she had. (description from Netgalley)
Night on Fire is a historical fiction novel that takes readers back to the Civil Rights Movement. Instead of the viewpoint from a revolutionary activist we get to see the world from a young teenager’s eyes. Billie, our main protagonist, doesn’t fully understand racism, but as she experiences small incidents in her everyday life she is starting to see the prejudice against African-Americans. She realizes its wrong, and sees the hate behind people’s actions, but doesn’t know what to do.
After a huge violent outburst in her hometown Billie really starts to question segregation and feels that everyone deserves equal rights. And in doing so she transitions from a naive to a confident person who wants to join the fight for justice and equality.
This novel gives younger readers a somewhat in-depth look at what the Freedom Riders achieved during this era as well as showing why it was so significant to the Civil Rights Movement. I also think it would make good teaching material in a classroom and will encourage readers to do more research on the entire movement.
The book also does a great job of highlighting the events from time period and condensing it in a roughly 300 page space that manages to keep the plot flowing smoothly. While it was based on actual events I felt like I was reading a story rather a history book. This novel keeps the reader engaged while also teaching them about the Civil Rights Movement at the same time.
This book says its YA, but I felt it was written for a middle school audience. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction!
FTC Disclaimer: This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.