Grove Press, 9780802138316, 297pp.
Publication Date: August 27, 2001
Thulani Davis's 1959 is a powerful, poignant coming-of-age novel that captures a dramatic moment in American history as clearly as a photograph. It's the summer of 1959 and Willie Tarrant of Turner, Virginia, is twelve. Her father and other adults in the town are worried about integration -- how it will affect their children's safety and the quality of their education -- but for Willie it's just another problem she's going to have to deal with, like her chores and beginning to go out with boys. Willie and her friends -- kids from good families with good grades -- are being groomed to be sent in the first wave. Before this can happen, though, eight black college students, wearing suits and fresh haircuts, go into the Woolworth's lunch counter -- changing everything. In 1959 one of the most talented writers of her generation has written a book that will become a classic of civil rights literature.