For those of you who don’t know, today marks the 51st anniversary of the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Purely by coincidence, I finished reading Sharon Draper’s Fire from the Rock, an engrossing book that deals with this historical event, about five minutes ago.
Fire from the Rock tells the story of Sylvia Patterson, a (fictional) young woman who was on the preliminary list of students selected to attend Central High School. I’ll go ahead and tell you that Sylvia does not become one of the nine selected to integrate, but her journey is still a powerful one. Throughout this book, readers learn of the turmoil this young girl, her family, and her community face as tensions over school integration increase. Sylvia knows that change is coming, and she must decide what her role will be.
To be perfectly honest, I resisted reading this book for a while simply because I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, but, once I began reading, I found that I didn’t want to stop. That speaks to the issues within this book and Sharon Draper’s remarkable talent.
I had the opportunity to meet Sharon Draper a couple of years ago while she was waiting for this book to be published. She said that she didn’t want to tell the story of one of the nine students who were the first African-Americans to attend Central High. She felt that it was their story to tell, but she still wanted to make readers aware of this important event in our nation’s history. I think she did a wonderful job, and I encourage everyone to read this book.