Fire from the Rock

Fire from the Rock

4.5 38
by Sharon M. Draper

View All Available Formats & Editions

Sylvia Patterson is shocked and confused when she is asked to be one of the first black students to attend Central High School, which is scheduled to be integrated in September 1957, whether the citizens or governor of Arkansas like it or not. Before Sylvia makes her final decision, smoldering racial tension in the town ignites into flame. When the smoke clears,

See more details below


Sylvia Patterson is shocked and confused when she is asked to be one of the first black students to attend Central High School, which is scheduled to be integrated in September 1957, whether the citizens or governor of Arkansas like it or not. Before Sylvia makes her final decision, smoldering racial tension in the town ignites into flame. When the smoke clears, she sees clearly that nothing is going to stop the change from coming. It is up to her generation to make it happen, in as many different ways as there are colors in the world.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Draper neatly intertwines history, pop culture, and emotion as she explores the turbulent era of Civil Rights through the eyes of an African-American teen. The year is 1957 and Sylvia Faye is chosen to be one of the first black students to enter Central High School in the racially charged town of Little Rock, AR, where the owner of the barbershop has "trained his dogs to attack Negroes." She is excited and honored but also very scared. She worries about her older brother who challenges whites with his fists instead of following her noble example by excelling in school and walking away from trouble. Sylvia Faye's character is very real and appealing, and the frank dialogue is both educational and refreshing. The text alternates between third-person narrative and Sylvia Faye's journal entries, allowing readers to experience her thoughts and fears about the important decision she must make. The author's ability to explore numerous prejudices subtly without bogging down readers with too much backstory is impressive, and she effectively shows the enormity of the decision and the tenor of the times. -School Library Journal
VOYA - Robbie L. Flowers
Life is normal for Sylvia in Little Rock, Arkansas. She is the average eighth grade girl: curious about life, interested in boys, and trying to define herself as a teen. Sylvia has friends, family and even a budding romance. But things are about to change. The mere whisper of the word integration threatens to ignite the powder keg that is Little Rock. The year is 1957, and there is talk of integrating Little Rock Central High School. Being one of the first black students to walk those halls seems like an honor to Sylvia. She imagines a whole different world of shiny, new lockers and a library stocked with thousands of titles that she has not read. But the rose-colored lenses through which she had been looking begin to come clearer when she discovers the danger that lies ahead for the black students who plan to attend Central. The hostility in the town that quietly simmered reaches a boiling point when violence touches Sylvia's family. Should it be handled with the nonviolent approach that her parents have embraced or is it time for something more aggressive, as her brother Gary suggests? As the violence escalates, the question becomes whether Sylvia will even live to see the first day of school at Central. This historical fiction novel is a must-have. It keeps the reader engaged with vivid depictions of a time that most young people can only imagine. This title is an essential purchase for any library that serves young people.
Children's Literature
The year is 1957. The town is Little Rock, Arkansas. The teenager is Sylvia Patterson, and her first year of high school will prove to be anything other than ordinary. As much as her brother, Gary, wants to be chosen as one of the students to integrate Central High School, it is Sylvia who is offered the honor--and the challenge--of being one of the Little Rock Nine. She is a bright, disciplined, and even-tempered young lady who wants nothing more than to enjoy the normal things that high school should bring--basketball games, dances, and the attentions of a handsome young man. Should she leave her friends and her school to be threatened and taunted at Central? Should she take on the burden of being an agent of change? While Sylvia is contemplating this decision, her neighborhood explodes both literally and figuratively, helping Sylvia to make one of the most difficult decisions of her life. This powerful novel presents the struggle for racial integration from the inside out. The reader does not just read about the struggle, he or she has an opportunity to experience it for themselves through the eyes of a young hero struggling just to be an ordinary teen. Reviewer: Louanne Jacobs
KLIATT - KaaVonia Hinton
Using the events that surrounded the black teens, now known as the Little Rock Nine, who were chosen to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, Draper offers an emotional tale about integrity, justice, and determination. A model student and citizen, rising freshman Sylvia Patterson has been chosen to join an elite group of students who will be the first to attend all-white Central High School. Intolerant of racism towards blacks and Jews (her best friend is Jewish), Sylvia knows that it is time to stand up against injustice. But what path should she take? The militant one her brother Gary has chosen? The passive-aggressive one her father has perfected? Or, the religious, just leave it to Jesus one, favored by her mother? To make matters more complicated, there is her first love to think about. Can she leave him at the all-black high school while she goes to Central? An expert at combining several genres to tell a compelling story, Draper reveals Sylvia's innermost thoughts and feelings in diary entries and poetry. Draper skillfully portrays the attitude and climate of late 1950s Arkansas and of the US in general. YA readers might be surprised by the mixed reactions of blacks, some for and some against integration, and the cruelty of the citizens, including the governor, of Arkansas. Figures like Daisy Bates, Elizabeth Eckford, and President Eisenhower will be familiar to history buffs. An informative author's note summarizes the experiences of the Little Rock Nine and suggests further reading. Draper fans will not be disappointed by her second historical fiction book, following the award-winning Copper Sun.
Kirkus Reviews
Sylvia is completing her last year of middle school, and she's excited about going to the local high school with all her friends. But this is not a typical coming-of-age tale because the setting is Little Rock, Ark. in 1957, and there are important decisions to be made that will affect not only Sylvia but all African-Americans. Central High School is to be integrated and Sylvia has been selected as a candidate to enroll. If she attends her segregated school, she's guaranteed a good education as well as an abundance of activities and an assured social life. If she goes to Central, she will be prohibited from participating in clubs, sports and all social events, and will definitely be subjected to threats and danger to herself and her family. In the end, she chooses the option that is right for her. Draper evokes the escalating tensions and violence of that seminal summer, giving them a sense of immediacy via a strong central character. Compelling. (Historical fiction. 11-15)

Read More

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.79(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.92(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 14 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Draper offers an emotional tale about integrity, justice, and determination." -KLIATT

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >