Autobiography by Anne Moody, published in 1968, telling the story of the author's upbringing in rural Mississippi as a black girl living in poverty. Moody was born in 1940, and the story starts with her earliest memories in the 1940s, and ends in 1964, right after the Freedom Summer.
I found this book because I was reflecting on something: in the United States, minorities, especially African-American, are often seen as being an "urban" population, and I have read few stories about African-Americans that describe rural existence.
This book is a very unsentimental and sometimes unpleasant book about what it is like to be a black girl growing up in an area that was, even by the standards of Mississippi in the middle of the last century, a poor and rural area. It does not attempt to shock or titillate, and among her many miseries, Anne also fits in some good childhood memories: winning a talent show or a good family dinner. Anne's discomfort not only comes as she realizes the realities of racism, but the ignorance and apathy of the black people around her. She is pressured into being baptized, she is slighted by her step-family, she feels bored in school because she is too far ahead--- all experiences that have a background in the racism around her, but are also complicated parts of growing up.
Becoming aware of the world around us is often a very difficult process, and what I liked best is how naturally Moody translates her growing awareness. From a confused child, buffeted by her experiences, we see her rising awareness and anger as a teenager, her first experiences outside of her small town, and then her becoming an activist for SNCC and CORE as a college student during the Freedom Summer. She shows how her natural situation, dealing with first jobs and first kisses and dealing with family, co-workers and classmates, and how all of that eventually leads to her becoming aware of the miseries of the world around her. What was most valuable to me about this book is how organic the process of her development comes across, and how she moves from the closed world of racist rural Mississippi to a world that at least has the possibility of something different and better.