Friday, March 3, 2017

LS 5663.20 Review: Loving vs Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

Loving vs Virginia
by Patricia Hruby Powell

Powell, Patricia Hruby. Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case. New York: Chronicle Books, 2017. Print. 

Poetic Elements: One of the great things about this book, is that though it is written in verse, it does not necessarily always feel like poetry. Because of this, this was my favorite book of the three throughout this module. One of the greatest poetic elements of this book was the fact that the story flowed so effortlessly, making it very easy on the reader to focus on the story instead of getting bogged down with syllable count or odd breaks in stanzas. There is still an abundance of figurative language throughout the text, a majority of which is metaphor, which does seem to be very common in verse novels. Another elements that is very apparent is that of emotional drive and imagery. The reader is immersed into Richard and Millie's story through the stanzas, and it makes it very easy for the reader to feel everything that they feel, from their love and joy, to the fear and heartache. 

Appeal: Overall, I do believe that this is a book that will appeal to young readers because it still has a lot of issues that they are dealing with today. Civil Rights are talked about in school, and it would be wonderful for students to have excerpts from this verse novel in order to better understand how things actually were at that point. Unfortunately, students would probably be able to relate some modern situations to things happening in the book as well. I believe that part of the title is an appeal as well, at least it was to me as a reader. I am not sure I had ever seen the term "documentary novel" and it has me intrigued right away. At the young adult age, students are just beginning to fall in love for the first tie as well, so they will be able to relate to those feelings and emotions shown throughout the poetry in the novel. 

Overall Quality: The overall quality of this book is incredibly well done. It is clear that Powell knows what she is talking about, giving the reader the instinct to trust what she is saying and simply sink into the story. It is very satisfying to get a large overview of the characters' lives, even before the time that they could together, and then throughout their time together as they deal with prejudice just from being together and creating a family. Not only does this book bring about a large amount of emotions, but it is also a wonderful learning experience for readers. There are so many things to learn from a story like this, and the verse format seems to make it run more smoothly. 

The Poets: Powell is the only poet of the book, though she is not alone in bringing this book to life. Shadra Strickland's illustrations really help to bring the story to life. Again, my students are much more willing to read a book of poetry if it is not just pages of text and nothing else, and this book gave them those things. Powell did a wonderful job giving a complete story throughout all verse, and keeping the reader engaged throughout the entirety. 

Layout: The layout of this book is wonderful in that it is not made up solely of the verse poetry. That is a large part of the novel, yes, but there is so much more than that. Powell has included the illustrations be Strickland, quotes by other well-known individuals, and photographs and court documents to accompany events as they occur in the story. There verse itself is made easy to read because the flow is steady, stanzas are a bit longer, and it seems to read more like prose with dialogue than like most other verse novels. I do believe this layout made it easier for myself as a reader, and that it would benefit younger readers as well. 

Spotlight Poem: 

“Then blinding light right in
my eyes.
I’m ready to scream
but Richard
spooned behind me
must have woke up
and pulled me tight
into his body--
which stops the scream.

Then a cruel voice
right over me says,
‘Who’s that woman
sleeping with?’
I can’t see who’s speaking
what with the light in my

He’s talking to Richard,
of course.
Richard says nothing--
not sure he’s
even truly awake.
He just pulls me
tighter still.

‘I’m his wife,’ I say.
It makes me feel brave.
I’m his wife.

Richard lifts onto
his elbow,
takes his arm away
from me
to shield
the light
from his eyes.

Richard points to the marriage certificate
framed on the wall
behind us.
Beam of light leaves our faces
to shine on the certificate--
so I can see it’s Sheriff Brooks
and two deputies--
but I already knew that.

‘Not here she ain’t,’
says the sheriff.
‘Come on, get dressed,
let’s go.

I scurry up the stairs,
pull on yesterday’s dress.
The whole house is awake--
Mama, Daddy, Otha, Lewis, Garnet--
no one says a word.
They don’t dare.

Mama watches me go off
with the white men.
Get in their car.

Go to jail.”

There are many wonderful things that could be pointed out with this specific poem, but I think that it would be a great poem to use as a text to practice inferencing before students actually read more of the text or research the case and story. They would have to infer who is at their house at the middle of the night, why they are asking those questions, and the overall situation. Then we could continue reading so they can understand what is actually happening, and determine if their inferencing was correct. 

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