Life for Davy Connors is as carefree and stable as a kid’s life can be in 1960. The one responsibility his young life contains is that of neighbourhood paperboy. He knows all the neighbours and their children, and the little neighbourhood idiosyncrasies that make life in his area comfortably normal. Until one day, the Jensen’s sell their home to the Buford’s, a coloured family. All of a sudden Davy’s neighbourhood is not the calm settled place he always believed it to be. Tensions begin to rise to the surface as racism rears its ugly head. Neighbours begin to disagree and cracks begin to show within Davy’s own family. It’s not just the adults who disagree and Davy’s own friendships are challenged and stretched as they get to know the new kids.
What I thought:
‘The Summer the Wind Whispered My Name’ transported me to a time before my own, where life was simple and childhood was free of care and full of adventure. Where kids could play down the street, get into innocent mischief and everyone felt safe. Reading the story through young Davy’s eyes was a precious peek into the mind of a child during a time of great and turbulent change.
Don Locke presents the issue of racism, its depth and its ugliness with great clarity and poise. He competently shows all sides of the problem from the point of view of the Buford’s, the various neighbours and indeed the resulting confusion for Davy.
While my heart broke for the Buford family and the mindless prejudices they face, Don paints their courage and determination beautifully. I was heartened by the depth of conviction of the few neighbours who willingly welcomed the new family and provided the backdrop for others to garner their own courage and begin a tentative friendship that others would have squashed.
‘The Summer the Wind Whispered My Name’ is more than just a story about racism, however. It is about a boy who begins to ponder things more independently. Not just the new and difficult things in his life, but the preconceived ideas he and his friends have of his neighbours. Almost as though his eyes are only just beginning to be opened, Davy discovers that life and people are complex, and not always as they appear on the surface.
‘The Summer the Wind Whispered My Name’ will gently challenge biases and be the impetus for readers to reconsider their own point of view in the light of God’s command to ‘love your neighbour’.
Guest reviewer:~ My dear friend Tracy from Beyond My Picket Fence
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