Review: Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

From the back cover

My daddy always said being brave wasn’t not being scared. Being brave was keeping going when you were.

Although I don’t usually like comparing one book to the other (especially when it is a classic) Whistling Past the Graveyard reminded me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird. Whoa! Those are big shoes to fill. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all time favourite novels, and for anything to even come near to it is quite exceptional.

Starla Claudelle lives with her grandmother (Mamie) in Cayuga Springs, Mississippi in 1963. Despite Mamie’s best efforts to turn her into a lady, Starla insists on maintaining her tomboy ways. After sneaking out on the Fourth of July, there is an incident that has Starla convinced she is wanted by the law. Considering she has never felt loved by her grandmother and her father works for long periods on an oil rig, she decides to run away to live with her mother; a famous singer in Nashville.

So begins Starla’s long journey through the Deep South to find a mother she hardly remembers. Her path is fraught with dangers, but along the way she encounters Eula; an African American woman who has a tragic past of her own. Together, the unlikely pair navigates a country ripe with racial tensions and political upheaval, as Starla discovers the injustice of her world and realises that family can come in any shape and any colour.

Starla is a wonderful narrator. Although she is mostly naïve about the political situation in the South, she has an innate sense of right and wrong and fights for those she loves. If Starla is the voice of the novel, then Eula is the heart. Although she makes some bad decisions, her intentions are always pure.

Crandall’s writing is effortless and heartfelt. The plot moves quickly and as the characters develop you fall more in love with them. I really enjoyed this novel. And while it doesn’t quite live up to the legendary classic that is To Kill a Mockingbird, it is pretty darn close.

Thank you Netgalley and Gallery Books for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Whistling Past the Graveyard will be released on the 2nd July and can be purchased via the links below.

Rating ★★★★½


Author Susan Crandall
Book series Stand Alone Novel
Genre Adult / Literary Fiction
Publisher Gallery Books
Published July 2013
Source Netgalley ARC
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