The Silence of Our Friends

The Silence of Our Friends


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A New York Times-bestselling graphic novel based on the true story of two families—one white and one black—who find common ground as the civil rights struggle heats up in Texas.

This semi-autobiographical tale is set in 1967. A white family from a notoriously racist neighborhood in the suburbs and a black family from its poorest ward cross Houston's color line, overcoming humiliation, degradation, and violence to win the freedom of five black college students unjustly charged with the murder of a policeman.

The Silence of Our Friends follows events through the point of view of young Mark Long, whose father is a reporter covering the story. Semi-fictionalized, this story has its roots solidly in very real events. With art from the brilliant Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole) bringing the tale to heart-wrenching life, The Silence of Our Friends is a new and important entry in the body of civil rights literature.

Praise for The Silence of Our Friends:

"[A]n engrossing narrative about race in America, while honestly dealing with a host of other real-world issues, including familial relationships, friendship, dependency, "other"-ness, and perhaps most importantly, the search for common ground." —Publishers Weekly

"A moving evocation of a tipping point in our country's regrettable history of race relations, Long and Demonakos's story flows perfectly in Eisner and Ignatz Award winner Powell's graceful and vivid yet unpretty black-and-gray wash." —Library Journal

"[C]onvincingly depicts the systemic racism, blatant and subtle, that suffused and corroded everything during [the] period…[Popwell's] imagery amplifies the effects of the book's multiple perspectives—the overwhelmed kid's-eye view of uneasy family dynamics and open Texas spaces, the hyperkinetic chaos on campus, the cropped literalism of TV newscasts." —The New York Times

"Powell uses a mixture of large and small panels along with a variety of frame compositions and points of view to give the book a cinematic realism. From this intimate vantage point, racist incidents are shockingly ugly, while happy domestic moments—as when the kids from both families belt out "Soul Man"—are unself-consciously beautiful. The youthful protagonist and graphic-novel format will plunge readers into a time that can seem very distant. Ideal as a class read, absorbing for solo readers." —School Library Journal

"Covering a time period of societal unrest from Viet Nam to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Silence uses realistic black-and-white illustrations to convey a subject that is not black and white." —VOYA

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250164988
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 01/02/2018
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 150,814
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Mark Long is a video game designer and producer living in Seattle. The Silence of Our Friends is based on Long's childhood experiences with the civil rights movement in suburban Houston, Texas.

Jim Demonakos founded Seattle's annual Emerald City Comicon, as well as The Comic Stop chain of retail stores. He has written, edited, and promoted a variety of books for different publishers throughout his career. He lives in the Seattle area.

Nate Powell is an Arkansas native and Eisner Award-winning cartoonist whose works include Swallow Me Whole (an LA Times Book Prize finalist), Any Empire, and (with co-authors Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin) the March trilogy, the final volume of which won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Powell is the first cartoonist to receive this honor. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

Reading Group Guide

For Discussion:

The Silence of Our Friends is a graphic novel, a story told in words and pictures. How do you think this story would be told differently if it was a novel, with only words?

How would it be different if it was a movie, with just pictures?

This book is based on a true story; the character of Mark is based on one of the authors, Mark Long. How do you think you would feel about the events that occur in this book if you were in his place?

The Silence of Our Friends is a black and white book. How would the experience of the book be different if this book was in color?

This book is set in the sixties. What was your hometown like in the sixties? Was there a similar amount of racial tension to Houston? Explain why things in your hometown were similar or different.

The characters in this book live in the shadow of the Vietnam War. What would it be like to think that you'll grow up to die in Vietnam like Mark does?

Jack's problems at work have to do with his boss and the company owner having very different ideas of how he should be handling his job. What would you do in this situation?

What do you think the children in this book will grow up to be?

This book contains a great deal of imitative play – kids pretending to be reporters,

inheriting their parents' ideas, etc. What does this say about the influences in a kids life? Do you think this is accurate?

One of the reasons to make a book about a less well-known historical event is to promote attention and awareness about it. What other less-known historical events do

you think should become books?

Customer Reviews

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The Silence of Our Friends 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
zzshupinga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Every so often a book will come along that will challenge you, that will make you think, and that will hopefully leave you a bit better after you¿ve read it. And this is just one such book. And yes some people are probably thinking that¿s high praise for a graphic novel, but the story will give you chills within the first three pages and suck you in and not let you go until the very end of the story.It¿s 1968 in Houston, Texas and the fight for civil rights is heating up. Young Mark Long¿s father, Jack Long, is the local TV station's race reporter and he¿s embedded into the third ward, one of the poorest parts of the town. Jack is attempting to cover the events occurring in town, such as the expulsion of the the SNCC (student nonviolent coordinating committee) from Texas State University, and do justice to the people that he¿s covering. He¿s saved at one event by Larry Thompson, a local black leader, and the two become friends and their lives intertwine. One white family from a notoriously racist neighborhood in the burbs and one black family from the poorest ward in Houston, come together and find common ground in a conflict that threatens to tear the city apart. But before the end it may all come crashing down with the arrest of the TSU five. Which will be the loudest before the end, the words of hate or the silence of friends? This semi-autobiographical tale is based upon true events of Mark Long¿s father.One of the problem that I normally see with autobiographical stories, like this one, is that they often try to give the reader to much information about the story and invariably the reader gets lost or there are moment that leave us wondering why we¿re supposed to care about the story. But this book...this book doesn¿t have that issue. The authors have focused the story upon specific events of the race issues affecting the town in a given time period and give you enough information that you understand where the characters are coming from, but it never lets you wander away from what the focus of the story is. And more importantly you don¿t ever feel like you¿re missing out on something. My favorite part of the storytelling though is how we get to see the story from two different perspectives--a white family from a racist neighborhood and a black family from one of poorest areas of Houston. Living in many ways on opposite sides of the world and yet we get to see the overlap and the differences between the two families clearly. And while that may sound like a cheesey way or stereotypical way of telling the story, Mark Long and Jim Demonakos tell the story in such a deft manner that you don¿t really see it being told that way. You see the characters as real people. You get to understand a bit of what they went through, the troubles that each family faced for the actions they took and didn¿t take, and that you want to know them in real life--just so that you could learn more from them. One last thought about the story--the title of the book comes from a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. "In the end, We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.¿ And this book does justice to those words.Nate Powell¿s artwork is absolutely gorgeous. It¿s done in his typical grace/style of capturing the human form oh so perfectly and it seems like this time he¿s gone even further in his use of shading to give us the beauty of all different types of skin tones, each character¿s is unqiue. His artwork is perfectly suited for this story capturing the range and intensity of emotions--the sorrow, the joy, and the fear that sends chills down your spine. That intensity, that feeling of life that he captures in their faces really makes them come alive. And the last pages of the books are some of the most powerful of the book. It seems like a rather basic layout of people walking in the street, with a closeup so that you can see the people¿s skin tones--both black and white, and you can see their faces
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars I loved the artwork in this graphic novel, detailed and realistically drawn illustrations embrace each page. The character’s faces: their all-knowing eyes, the deep creases on their foreheads, and the way that the eyebrows tell the story of what’s really transpiring, it’s as though you don’t need to read the words within each text box. I got caught up in just looking at the illustrations a few times, as they themselves relay the story of just how these characters feel about the situation that they are in. This graphic novel is about civil rights in the late 1960’s. It’s about the violence, the beliefs, the struggles and the spirit of the individuals who fought to be heard. What I liked best about this novel is the illustrations and how we get to read both sides of the story. In this novel, a white journalist becomes friends with a black activist as a murder has been committed and the real suspects need to be brought to justice. I found myself lost a times inside this story, the story confusing but as I pulled myself back, I found my footage and entered into the drama once again. It’s a powerful story and one that gains its strength from its wonderful illustrations.
royzector More than 1 year ago
This snapshot of the author's experience during the civil rights movement was poignant and thought-provoking.
erb15 More than 1 year ago
as a lover of graphic novels, i was very disappointed. there was an okay plot line and complimentary pictures that showed the action, not the beautiful weaving interplay a true graphic novel should have. the topic of the book is important but the timeline is historically inaccurate to serve the author's purposes. all in all, it was a fast and unsatisfying read. i just really feel that with the great potential of that moment in history and the personal connection the author had to it, he could've done something more.
TurningThePagesBlog More than 1 year ago
When I found this one in the library I was really excited to read it, because I'm always very interested in the civil rights struggle and I had seen some pretty decent reviews of this one floating around the internet so I thought why not? Let's give it a go. Now while I understand that the author used some of his own experiences in writing the graphic novel I thought that the story line was flat. The graphic novel started out on a high note, but it quickly went down hill because the story was so fragmented in my opinion it was hard to know what was going on because it jumped so wildly from page to page in terms of the story line. I will say thought that the author did give a good portrayal of the south during this period and that came through in the illustrations which I thought were really good, I thought the style of the artwork suited the time period in which the grqaphic novel was set and for me the artwork was the only thing that I enjoyed about the graphic novel. I probably wouldn't recommend this graphic novel to anyone just because of how I felt about it though don't let that stop you because I seem to be in the minority for this one. If you are going to try it be warned there are some racial slurs in it as well as a few F-Bombs as well.