Mississippi Trial, 1955

Mississippi Trial, 1955

4.0 42
by Chris Crowe

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As the fiftieth anniversary approaches, there's a renewed interest in this infamous 1955 murder case, which made a lasting mark on American culture, as well as the future Civil Rights Movement. Chris Crowe's IRA Award-winning novel and his gripping, photo-illustrated nonfiction work are currently the only books on the teenager's murder written for young adults.


As the fiftieth anniversary approaches, there's a renewed interest in this infamous 1955 murder case, which made a lasting mark on American culture, as well as the future Civil Rights Movement. Chris Crowe's IRA Award-winning novel and his gripping, photo-illustrated nonfiction work are currently the only books on the teenager's murder written for young adults.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Crowe uses fiction to retell the story of the Emmett Till murder of 1955, which sparked the Civil Rights Movement. The Mississippi Delta is seen through the eyes of Hiram Hillburn¾at first idyllically as a young boy, then more realistically when he returns to visit his beloved grandfather during his sixteenth summer. Crowe's approach works surprisingly well. Hiram develops as a character through his relationships with the southerners around him¾his grandparents, the family's black cook, his friends. The neighboring Remington brothers¾though only secondary characters¾nearly overwhelm the rest as a fascinating cross of Welty/Faulkner. With Hiram's involvement in the trial and its depressing, if certain, conclusion, he finally comes of age. This is a thoughtful story that rises above a mere retelling of one episode in the South's racist past. 2002, Phyllis Fogelman Books,
— Kathleen Karr
This novel held my interest because of all the emotional events in the story. Crowe did a good job of expressing the deep emotions felt by the characters. The way the author wrote out the southern accents of many characters made the story more believable. I think this book conveyed a strong message about life in the South during the 1950s. It would probably appeal most to teens interested in that era. VOYA CODES: (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2002, Phyllis Fogelman Books/Penguin Putnam, 240p,
— Kristen Moreland, Teen Reviewer
"My dad hates hate." With this compelling opening line, Chris Crowe draws readers into his first novel for adolescents. It is the story of 16-year-old Hiram Hillburn, who lives with his family in Arizona, but who longs to visit Greenwood, Mississippi, and the grandfather who helped raise him. And it is also the story of the disappearance, torture, and murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, a Black teen who was visiting Greenwood, Mississippi, from his Chicago home during the summer of 1955. When Hiram convinces his parents to let him spend the summer in Greenwood, he finally beings to understand why his father had to leave; he begins to appreciate his father's stance against injustice and prejudice. The lessons require that he learn about the ugly side of his own grandfather's past, and the man's part in the murder of Hiram's young Black friend, Emmett Till. Crowe never lets the story line lag for the sake of adding historical details. Instead, he expertly infuses fact with human feeling. He shows us how desperately Hiram wants to help when he sees Emmett Till tortured by White kids, who gut a fish and hold let the blood drip all over Emmett, a scene that foreshadows the torture and murder that a group of White men later commit. Crowe helps us feel the humidity and heat of the Mississippi courtroom when the men responsible for Emmett's death are found innocent. And he teaches us the power of a teen's strength, hope, understanding, and love, even in the face of the prejudice and hatred of adults around him. The book is reminiscent of Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry in Crowe's powerful treatment of a serious subject and his graceful, careful use of language. 2002, PhyllisFogelman Books, , . Ages young adult.
— Sissi Carroll
A 14-year-old boy named Emmett Till from Chicago, visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta in 1955, was accused of speaking disrespectfully to a white woman. He was kidnapped and murdered. Most people in town knew who the murderers were but at the trial, those arrested were acquitted by a "jury of their peers"—e.g., white men. Chris Crowe uses the facts of this historical event, which outraged many people across the nation and was a factor in the success of the Civil Rights Movement, to tell a fictional story narrated by a white boy awakened to the truth of racial hatred. Hiram is this narrator. He is having trouble with his father who is having trouble with his father, Hiram's grandfather. Hiram was left with his grandparents during the war and later, when his father was getting graduate degrees to enable him to take the family away from the South. The memory of his time in the small Southern town with his grandparents is dear to him and he can't understand why his father wants to get as far away from the South as he can—taking a job in Arizona. Hiram is away for some years until the grandfather suffers a stroke and Hiram asks to return for the summer to help out. This is the summer of Emmett Till's murder. Crowe tells convincingly how Hiram loves the South and later how appalled he is at the worst of the tradition there of Jim Crow and segregation and hatred. An 18-year-old bully, once a kind of childhood friend of Hiram's, torments Emmett Till in Hiram's presence, which horrifies Hiram and prepares him for his outrage at Emmett's eventual murder. Black characters such as Ruthanne,
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-While visiting relatives in Mississippi, Emmett Till, 14, spoke "ugly" to a white woman and was subsequently tortured and murdered. Two men were arrested and tried for this heinous crime, but in spite of substantial evidence, were found not guilty. Crowe has woven the plot of his novel around these historical events. Hiram, the fictional main character, had lived with his grandparents in Mississippi as a child. Now 16, he returns to visit his aging grandfather, where he meets Emmett Till. He also renews a childhood acquaintance with R.C. Rydell, a redneck bully. When Emmett's mutilated body is found, Hiram immediately suspects that R.C. was involved. In a predictable twist at the end, he learns that it was his grandfather, not R.C., who helped the murderers. The Deep South setting is well realized. Descriptions of the climate, food, and landscape are vivid and on target. Likewise, Southern racial attitudes from the period are accurately portrayed. Grampa is a racist but Hiram enables readers to see his good qualities as well. Hiram himself seems rather naive. He is unable to fathom the racial prejudice at the root of his father's alienation from his grandfather. Nor does he feel the aura of racial fear and hatred that hangs over the entire region. The novel succeeds in telling Emmett Till's story, but there is an emotional distance that keeps readers from caring as deeply as they should about this crime. Still, it is a story that needs to be told. This book belongs in all collections to show young readers the full range of American history.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Historical fiction examines the famous case of Emmett Till, whose murder was one of the triggers of the civil-rights movement. Hiram Hillburn knows R.C. Rydell is evil. He watches R.C. mutilate a catfish, but does nothing to stop him. "I didn't want to end up like that fish," he says. He watches R.C. throw stones at a neighbor's house and humiliate 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African-American visitor from Chicago, and still he does nothing. Hiram says, "When things are scary or dangerous, it's hard to see clear what to do." When Till is brutally murdered, Hiram is sure R.C. is involved. Hiram, a white teenager who has come back to the Mississippi town where his father grew up, is the narrator and the perspective of the white outsider and the layers of his moral reflection make this an excellent examination of a difficult topic. When the case comes to trial, Hiram knows he must face his own trial: can he stand up to evil and do the right thing? He knows Mr. Paul, the local storeowner, is right: "Figure out what's right and what's wrong, and make yourself do the right thing. Do that and no matter what happens, no matter what people say, you'll have no regrets." This is a complicated thing to do, as Hiram must summon inner strength and come to terms with who he is-the son of an English professor who hates everything about the South and the grandson of a farmer who loves everything about it. Teen readers will find themselves caught up in Hiram's very real struggle to do the right thing. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
870L (what's this?)
File size:
260 KB
Age Range:
12 - 16 Years

Meet the Author

Chris Crowe is the author of several books, most notably Mississippi Trial, 1955, which won several awards, including the 2003 International Reading Association's Young Adult Novel Award. His nonfiction book, Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case, was an Jane Addams Honor book. His first children's book, Just As Good: How Larry Doby Changed America's Game, appeared in 2012. Chris married his high school sweetheart, and they live in Provo, Utah, where he works in the English department at BYU. They are the parents of four children and grandparents of two lovely girls and three handsome boys.

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Mississippi Trial 1955 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mississippi Trail, 1995 by Chris Crowe Publish in 2002. A historical-fiction base on a true story of Emett Till's murder in the state of Mississippi of 1955. The general storyline was the trial in the summer of 1955, Mississippi; It change Hiram (main character of the book)'s life; His way of looking at his Father and Grandfather and the city Greenwood, Mississippi. By reading this book, I learned the South was back then, and how racist they were. And I change my way of thinking on Africa-Americans. And thank God, America had changed after this event (the Mississippi trial of 1955). One event can change up your thinking and even life. I recommend this book to today youths, its great and easy book to read and it will teach you a big lesion and it might change your mind of thinking. Hiram (the main character of the book) growing with his grandparents in city of Greenwood, Mississippi until the death of his grandma, move to Arizona back with his parents, His Dad and grandpa never get along. Hiram love his grandpa more than his dad, until the trial. He sees the other face of his grandpa and Greenwood, and start thinking about why his dad doesn't like Greenwood and all the other stuff he had told him. I think Hiram's character is believable, growing up as a child and didn't know much, and later come back find out how his hometown is like. I believe the author (Chris Crowe) like Hiram and make him that way. Mississippi Trial, 1955 a life changing book. I really recommend this book this my peers and youths. My old high (WJHS) tell us to read it over the summer, and I would say, "They make a great choice and I bet a lot of my classmate read it and like it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this was a great book I had to read it for an assignment in my Writing from Literature 1 Class an I thought that this book was outstanding!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hiram Hillburn returns to his granps's house in Mississippi, finding it much different from when he was a kid. Based on a true story, Chris Crowe worte an exciting novel about a kids murder. There is a mixture of drama ans mystery, making it an great book. There are a few parts were the story slows down, but those go by quickly.This first person makes you feel like you were actually there. You dont want to miss a book like this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great, but also sad novel about a young African Amerian who is kidnapped and then killed for small talk. The novel makes you realize the truth that prejudice and racial things really did and still do happen. The worst part of this novel is the trial when Mr. Bryant and Mr. Milam get away with the brutal murder they commited. The story through Hiram Hillburn, the narrator, is Historical Fiction. Even though Hiram Hillburn, R.C. Rydell, Hiram's grandpa, and many others were not real the story of the trial of Emmett Till is true. This novel is a well written novel that kept me guessing what would happen next. I would definitely recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Mississippi Trial, 1955 is an interesting book about the problems in the 1950's. It could of gone into more deatail about the problems in the climax with the Boy. The best part of the novel to me was when Hiram the main character was a toung boy in the Mississippi Delta. I would recommend this novel for it's historical accuracy and to show other people what is wrong with segregation
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mississippi Trial, 1955 is a great historical fiction novel that helped me understand more about the south in 1955. It opened my eyes to racism and segregation and kept me interested as I read. It painted a perfect picture of the 1950's southern life for the reader. The novel was a little dull at the beginning and could use some excitement, but towards the climax I couldn't put the book down. The author explained a lot about being white in the south, too. Most historical fiction novels only relate to what the person who was suffering from racism go through. The book was different because it showed how a white boy chose which way to live and judge. The white boy, Hiram, chose between living easy and living right. The novel also involved many conflicts and the author did a great job portraying different lifestyles through the characters. My favorite part of the novel was the conclusion because Hiram, the narrator, and his father reunite and finally understand each other. It's an optimistic ending to the serious story. I would definitely recommend this novel to another middle-schooler who enjoys history because it taught me a lot about the past and had terrific themes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My opinion of this book is that it's exciting. The book has a murder mystery with the views of Hiram Hillburn, who was at Mississippi at the time, who wants to do the right thing. This was during the years of the Jim Crow laws. The worst part of the book is when Emmitt gets murdered for nothing. The characteristics of this book is poverty to African Americans. I'd recommend this book to anyone that loves interesting, adventerous, and sad books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chris Crowe has gathered information from the trial in Mississippi in the year of 1955 and composed it into a novel of conflict, murder, mystery, and society. A young white boy named Hiram Hillburn lives with his Grampa and Gramma in the small community of Greenwood, Mississippi. But during the summer of his 16th birthday, things start to get ugly when a 'negro' teen was brutally murdered after rude comments to a white woman. And as the case goes to trial, conflicts increase and Hiram has to muster hurt, anger and frustration. I recommend this novel to people who enjoy the subject to society and law enforcement matters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was overall good, I was avle to enfoy the book. Once you got started you could get 'hooked'. There's enough suspense and conflict in it to make you wonder what is going to happen. The worst part of the novel is when ever one of the characters is treated wrongly. I would recommend this novel to let people see more on how segregation went back then.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hiram comes home to Mississippi after moving to Alabama with his family.He dicovers that many things have changed since he was younger. He befriends a black boy that is later murdered. Hiram wants justice for his friend and doesnt think that three white men should be above the law. I liked the plot of this book but didnt like the slow start of the novel.I recommend that any young teen who wants to lrean about some of the problems between the black and white during the 1950s should read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very cool for someone to read. This book is about a boy Emmett Till who gets murdered and thrown into a river. I would recommend this book to someone that knows how to handle suprising situations and uncourteous, scrupulous behavior, and words.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. Fast read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay book. Too many curses and they're just a little too racist for me, but overall its pretty good
Abigail Cox More than 1 year ago
Good book about the trials of segregation that America faced in the Mid-1900s. I liked how it wasn't neccessarly a fairytale ending. The only reason this isnt a five star book because the beginning was slow and the real story didnt start until halfway through the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a boy, Hiram loved his childhood and remembered it as a great place to be. Hiram is exceedingly excited when he gets to see his most favorite grandfather in Greenwood, Mississippi again. However, when he arrives, he fells that the small town where he¿d grown up in isn¿t the same. The place has been filled with hatred between the black and whites. The whites treat the blacks awfully when they refuse to follow their `know purpose.¿ He doesn¿t see this racism until he runs into a black teen from Chicago named Emmet Till. Unfortunately, the boys don¿t know each other long because Hiram finds his friend dead in the river. Enraged, Hiram is determined to find the one who killed his fellow buddy. What is it going to cost in order for him to know? Read this book to find out the murderer and the reason for Emmet Till¿s death. With a lot of suspense and action, the book Mississippi Trial, 1955 was excellent and terrible in many ways. I liked how the character jumped back into time to compare his childhood life to his recent life. This made the book easier to read and comprehend to my life and how it is different from his life. I also enjoyed how the characters used good description in the story to give a pleasant and understandable picture of the scene. With the dialogue in the book, it helped me relate what conversation was like back then to what conversation is like now. Although there were some things that I liked in this book, I also disliked some things that the book provided. I didn¿t like how the book jumped around from scene to scene to scene. This confused me and made it difficult to get a full understanding. The flashback that Hiram had in his childhood at the beginning also made it hard to understand what was taking place. I couldn¿t tell if it was from Hiram¿s past or present figure. This book has a lot of other information that readers may want to know. This book has a ton of suspense and astonishing action that takes place. Those of you who may like the television show CSI, this book has a similar format or plot. Authors like Chris Crowe write many novels for teens, and he presents all of his feelings and thoughts in his writing for all of his books. This book is for everyone and anyone to read. Overall, I feel that this book was very exciting and dynamic. I would highly recommend it to readers looking for and awesome book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mississippi Trial 1955 is a great book most of the time, but the beggining is kind of slow. The best part of the book is when Hiram returns to Mississippi, while the worst part is the beggining. I would reccomend this book to someone because once you've got past the first twenty pages it's a very interesting book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was a great story for kids 12-20,because it teaches us how unfair and hard it was to live in the Mississippi of 1955 for African Americans. I thought the book was interesting. The whole time I was reading it I was expecting a trial when it happens in the very end, and it wasn't very long. The part I liked best was when Hiram got back to Mississippi. I would recommend this novel to people who are wondering how bad Negroes had it during the Civil Rights Movement.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mississippi Trial, 1955 paints a picture of how the south was in the 1950's, and how the races divided the states. This novel shows how one young man, Hiram Hillburn, has to make the grueling decision of doing what is right or lying to confrom to the 'white' society. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Civil Rights, the history of the south, and the injustice towards African Americans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mississippi Trial is a historical fiction book that illustrates the growing racial tension between blacks and whites in the Deep South during the 1950's. This book consist more than racial conflicts, but an up and down relationship between father and son, and how the following generations insight on the world varies. Even though there are a few slow moving scenes sprinkled throughout the book, I would still recommend this novel to young adult African Maerican readers to show how far our civil rights have progressed. The plots in this book are ones that all of us have been faced with and could easily substite the main character with and put in ourselves.throughough the book, I wou
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We have to read this for school and i love it. It portrays the way things used to be in the south with racism and murders. It has a few curse words in it but i recomend for 8th grade and up. I hope this helped you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It breaks my heart tho
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago