While the world watched : a Birmingham bombing survivor comes of age during the civil rights movement /

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Main Author: McKinstry, Carolyn Maull, 1948-
Other Authors: George, Denise.
Format: Book
Published: Carol Stream, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, c2011.
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Review by Booklist Review

McKinstry pinpoints the date and time she came of age as September 15, 1963, at 10:22 a.m., when the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was bombed, killing four young girls. She saw the rubble of the girl's bathroom in which, unbeknownst to her at the time, her four friends were killed. She herself had only moments earlier been in the bathroom with the girls, primping and laughing. McKinstry alternates her account of the day and recollections of childhood in segregated Birmingham, growing up in a loving family in a protective community. She recalls other milestones as she grew up in the South Martin Luther King's visit to Birmingham, the Little Rock Nine, the murder of Emmett Till and her years of living with depression and survivor's guilt. She remained silent about the trauma, treating her depression with alcohol until she finally had a spiritual breakthrough and later helped to restore the church and make it a historic site. A compelling look at a horrendous act of terrorism and how it changed the life of one young girl.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The nation's collective memory of the civil rights movement depends largely on journalists and biographers who witnessed the snarling dogs and brutal racist tactics used to enforce and defend segregation in the South. In a more personal account, McKinstry, a survivor of the Ku Klux Klan bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., offers the rare perspective of both a child and an eyewitness to some of the most jarring aspects of blacks' fight for civil rights. Her tale of surviving the bombing, which killed four of her friends on September 15, 1963, vividly describes the force of water from fire hoses that left a hole in her sweater; the ominous call moments before the bomb exploded; and the clouds that formed in her mental sky when she realized that the childhood innocence her parents had relied on to shield her from racism was gone. The text of speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and short summaries of Jim Crow laws are an educational addition to the narrative, but in boxes alongside the main narrative, they are also a visual distraction from the main text. Depending on the reader's knowledge of the racial disparities McKinstry grew up enduring, the additions will read as repetitive or informative. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, AL, in which four girls were killed, was a tragic act reflecting the violence and racism faced by African Americans in the Jim Crow South. While this incident is often cited as the turning point in the struggle for civil rights, the full story is often eclipsed by other well-known stories in the Civil Rights Movement. McKinstry's autobiography is an eyewitness account of the events of September 15, 1963 (she was in the church at the time), and the ensuing horror and terror felt by so many after the bombing. For 14-year-old Carolyn and many African Americans, church was a safe haven that gave them a sense of hope and protection (albeit temporary) from the harsh realities of racism. The bombing and local apathetic response to it and other acts of terrorism left McKinstry with a lingering depression fueled by "survivor's guilt." Peppered with quotes and excerpts from the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., President Kennedy and the Bible, this is an accessible, inspirational story of struggle, forgiveness, and healing in the wake of hatred and delayed justice. Verdict Recommended for school libraries as well as adults interested in eyewitness memoirs framed with hope for the future.-Tamela Chambers, Chicago Pub. Schs. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-As an eyewitness to the infamous 1963 bombing of Birmingham, Alabama's 16th Street Baptist Church, McKinstry's story is a compelling one. Not only does she speak about being at the church at the time of the bombing that killed four of her friends, but also about her lifelong struggle in coming to terms with her guilt about her own survival and her anger at the senseless, murderous act. After being knocked to the ground in the bombing, McKinstry tried to find her friends and her brothers, who were also at the church. Her brothers were found, but she soon learned that her four friends had died in the restroom where they had all chatted only minutes before. In 1963, there were no grief counselors to help McKinstry recover from the trauma. She was expected to go to school the next day and carry on with her responsibilities. The suppressed stress eventually lead to alcohol abuse when she was a college student and a young mother. Felicia Bullock narrates the personal story with subtle emotion and grace. The story is interspersed with many quotations from figures in the Civil Rights Movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr. The significance of each quoted statement is indisputable, but the monotone with which they are delivered distracts somewhat from McKinstry's gripping personal story. This narrative (Tyndale House, 2011) is also an uplifting tale of the power of McKinstry's Christian faith. It is an inspirational personal account and a glimpse back 50 years to a troubling time in the United States.-Ann Weber, Bellarmine Coll. Prep., San Jose, CA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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