The Lions of Little Rock
By Kristin Levine
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2012. 298 pages. Historical fiction.
In late-50's Little Rock, Arkansas, the times are changing- starting with the local high school closing completely due to the admittance of black students. But for twelve-year-old Marlee, her biggest worry is how she will make friends in middle school, because she is painfully shy and dreads talking to almost anyone. Then she meets outgoing, friendly Liz, and the two form an instant bond. They are yin and yang, quiet and outspoken, and they find comfort in each others' strengths. Marlee's world is soon turned upside down, as it is revealed that Liz is in fact African-American (but light-skinned enough that she has "passed" up until now). Liz is kicked out of school and goes into hiding, as the community's anger grows more volatile every day over the question of integration. Marlee must sort out what she believes to be right, even as her parents, friends, and community fight for their own convictions. The Lions of Little Rock is both profound and gripping- a must read!