Whistling Past The Graveyard focused on Starla, a young spunky girl who struggled to live under the tyrannical rule of her grandmother while her father worked on an oil rig out at sea. When Starla went to the county fair against her grandmother’s edict and wound up in trouble, her youth led her to believe she would be sent away. To avoid punishment, she decided to hitchhike to her mother living in another city, but it was clear the trip wouldn’t go as planned. Only pages later, Starla was picked up by Eula, an African-American woman who might have stolen a white baby. Starla’s life was immediately in danger when she met Eula’s abusive husband, who almost killed Starla.
I loved the sassy voice of the young narrator and her innocent observations that interposed humor into serious situations. The reason this book worked so well was that Eula and Starla complimented each other. They alternated between being a parent to the other, and that gave the relationship between a young white girl and a older African-American woman legitimacy. There were enough characters and peaks in the plot it to keep Starla’s road trip interesting. Starla grows up rapidly through situations that taught her about race and familial relationships. By interweaving the tales of so many characters, the author only allowed some characters to get what they wanted, which came at the cost of others. Yet,somehow the author managed to craft a bittersweet ending that was still satisfying.
I enjoyed this novel from the first page to the last and would highly recommend it.