That summer was a hot one, just like all the others in Mississippi. Yet Rose Lee was used to the heat, even if she never got USED to it. It just was. But that July, she and her brother Fred Lee got bad news, news that they should have seen coming but didn’t. Their mother, who had married a man to take care of his younger children, was moving to Chicago, without them. Not that they had seen their mother much since she’d married Mr. Pete, but still, now she was moving to Chicago, without them, and didn’t seem to have any issues with it. Of course, she’d already left them with her parents, Papa and Ma Pearl, about seven years ago, so why should she start acting like a mother now? Still Rose is terribly hurt by the fact that her mother is showing she obviously doesn’t care about either her or Fred.
And after that big hit, they just keep coming. The summer turns out to be one shock after another, and all of them are unpleasant and show how different some of her own family feel about events happening in and around Mississippi. Ma Pearl never lets Rose forget she is NOT the favored grandchild, not even close and makes references to her dark skin as if it is something to be ashamed of, and makes Rose think bad things about herself.
When horror strikes close to home, Rose feels like her connection to Mississippi and home is slipping away, and all she wants is to get away as fast as possible because she can’t see herself surviving in such a place. Is it possible to be happy when she is surrounded by so much despair and horrible history, past and present?
Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson is a look at the south during the murder of Emmett Till and how many people were living with the constant battle between wanting to do what they knew was right, and being terrified of how it could come back down on them and their families. It shows how not everyone felt the same way about how to move forward and how that could and did create family conflict and how if things were going to change, it might just have to come from the younger generation.
Recommended for grades 7 and up due to authentic language usage.