Book Review: Sources of Light by: Margaret McMullen


Houghton Mifflin

Publish Date:
April 12, 2010

From Publisher for Review


Order From: 
Amazon / Barnes & Noble

It's 1962: a year after the death of Sam's father, Sam and her mother arrive in Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson is a very different place compared to their old northern home in Pennsylvania. Here, there's a great divide between black people and white people - a divide that segregates people based solely on the color of their skin.

Racial tension runs high, and Sam witnesses a black voter registration drive turn violent.

But in this world that sees only in black and white, Sam uses her gift - a camera - to bring forth the injustice, out of the darkness and into the light.

In a moving historical account, Margaret McMullen uses a shutter of her own, her poetic prose, to capture both the honesty of Sam's voice and the confusing atmosphere of this very poignant time. 

Review: Sam is a good kid and when she and her mom move to Jackson - close to where her dad grew up - she tries hard to fit in with the "popular crowd". However, she soon realizes something is way more important.  She lives in the time of the civil rights movement and it's resistance, especially in the deep South. Sam uses the camera her mother's friend gives to her to capture the heart of Jackson - unvarnished and raw - showing the light and darkness within.

This book was heartbreakingly beautiful and a snapshot of 1962 which was eerily accurate. It was so hard to read this at times, just the descriptions of the anger and hatred toward blacks and the ferocity of the Klan and just the "common" white person's ignorance. It upsets me that in this day and age, where we have a president of 'color' in office (regardless of your feelings about his politics), that people are still persecuted, assaulted, shamed, and intimidated for just being different. We should be proud of our differences, because without them, we wouldn't have the beauty we do in this world.

We are all people, regardless of  race, creed, nationality, religion, gender expression, or sexual orientation. We can't let fear and hate drive us - you can't believe everything you think. People aren't born hating others...they're taught to hate. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best with his epic speech, "I have a dream..." This is a poignant and gripping novel of that dream.


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