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The Strength of Saints
     

The Strength of Saints

by A. LaFaye
 

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"Inside me, in a new place, sore with growth, I felt the solid weight of strength holding me up, pushing me forward to face what was sure to come next."

Nissa Bergen is growing up...and finding that she's growing apart from childhood friends and facing adult decisions. Her hometown is changing too. Northerners have settled in Harper,

Overview

"Inside me, in a new place, sore with growth, I felt the solid weight of strength holding me up, pushing me forward to face what was sure to come next."

Nissa Bergen is growing up...and finding that she's growing apart from childhood friends and facing adult decisions. Her hometown is changing too. Northerners have settled in Harper, Louisiana, and have opened a cannery. With the new population, new resources — like more schools — are needed. But there's growing racial tension, with threats of violence that may come back to hurt Nissa, who created the town's "separate-but-equal" libraries.

Nissa is faced with a chance to be a hero, and like a true hero, she just wants to do what's right. But doing what's right is never easy. Not even for saints.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
The Strength of Saints by A. LaFaye (The Year of the Sawdust Man and Nissa's Place) continues the story of Nissa Bergen. As a growing population challenges the resources and long-held beliefs of her racially divided town, the young heroine, creator of "separate but equal" libraries, must confront the difficulties head on. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
LaFaye offers a thoughtful, warm-hearted picture of a wacky family in Harper, Louisiana, during the Depression. Readers of Year of the Sawdust Man (Simon & Schuster, 1998) and Nissa's Place (1999) will welcome back Nissa Bergen as she continues to grow up living with her father, stepmother, and new baby sister. She has started a library in her hometown, but it has two entrances, and she must continually assure her white customers that the books they are taking are "clean," not handled by colored patrons. Nissa finds this segregation troublesome, and so does her mother, who returns to a town she vowed never to live in again. She fears violence when Nissa finally decides to do what is right with the library�serve all equally. Trouble comes to a head when Nissa builds a bookmobile and delivers books at lunch to the newly built factory. Her refusal to look at people by their color puts her in a dangerous position and the town on the brink of racial violence. Issues of poverty, segregation, racial hate, and change are woven throughout this story in a lyrical and attention-grabbing way. Nissa and her friends are all well-developed characters with defined spaces within a changing community. Historical topics such as racism and industrialization are handled with empathy and clear understanding. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (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, Simon & Schuster, 192p,
— Susan Allen
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-LaFaye's tale describes life in small-town Louisiana when racial tensions are escalating. Neither the 1936 time period nor the setting is particularly well defined. Very few details other than geographical names indicate a southern locale. Plot and theme are developed slowly through the too-mature musings of 14-year-old Nissa Bergen, who attempts to support racial equality by creating two separate but equal libraries, the East and West Libraries, housed in the same building, despite her fears that some of the town's known Klan members might burn it down with her in it. Her independent spirit is supposedly explained by the fact that she is the newspaper editor's daughter. After enjoying the much more liberal atmosphere of city life, her eccentric mother inexplicably returns to support her daughter. Encouraged by the woman's independent spirit, Nissa continues to patronize her black friend's cafe, to serve her library patrons equally, and to uphold "right" much like a Louisiana Joan of Arc of 1936. The book climaxes with a terrible fire set indirectly by racists. The new factory, which has been the salvation of most of the townspeople, is destroyed and Nissa saves the day. It's all a bit unbelievable.-Susan Cooley, Tower Hill School, Wilmington, DE Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416958697
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
06/21/2007
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.44(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

A. LaFaye (the "A" is for Alexandria) is the author of Worth, for which she received the Scott O'Dell Award, as well as The Year of the Sawdust Man, Nissa's Place, The Strength of Saints, Edith Shay, Strawberry Hill, and Dad, in Spirit. She teaches at California State University at San Bernardino during the school year and at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, in the summer. She lives in Cabot, Arkansas.

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