The subject matter, characters and historical detail all work together to make The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine an unforgettable read. I absolutely loved this book, y’all!
The Lions of Little Rock centers around school segregation in 1958 Little Rock, Arkansas. It is based on real events, and Kristin Levine did her research well. The book is full of information about groups that were formed both in support and protest as well as actual people who were affected. I absolutely loved reading about these things included in the story that actually happened!
Twelve-year old Marlee has severe social anxiety issues. She barely talks to anyone except close family. She lives in fear of having to talk in front of groups of people. This is until she meets Liz, a new girl at school. For some reason, they are so comfortable around each other. They become instant friends and Liz is great at making Marlee come out of her shell.
Then Liz suddenly stops coming to school and Marlee is left confused and heartbroken. Things get worse when it is revealed that Liz was actually part black, trying to pass as white to get a better education. Will Marlee be able to overcome her town’s prejudice to keep her friend? Will she be putting both of their families in danger if she does?
Oh man, you guys: these characters are incredible. They are all an absolute joy to read about. One of my favorite things was the growth of Marlee’s mother. She went from seeming incredibly racist to joining the cause to help fight segregation over the course of the book (in large part thanks to Marlee). I loved seeing their family work together!
I think The Lions of Little Rock would make a fantastic movie. Even the title is fabulous. Even if it was just made for TV – these characters and their story would be so worth it. I highly recommend picking this up and meeting Marlee and Liz.