Whistling Past the Graveyard

  • by Susan Crandall
  • Narrated by Amy Rubinate
  • 11 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old spitfire Starla Claudelle runs away from her strict grandmother's Mississippi home. Starla hasn't seen her momma since she was three - that's when Lulu left for Nashville to become a famous singer. Starla's daddy works on an oil rig in the Gulf, so Mamie, with her tsk-tsk sounds and her bitter refrain of "Lord, give me strength," is the nearest thing to family Starla has. After being put on restriction yet again for her sassy mouth, Starla is caught sneaking out for the Fourth of July parade. She fears Mamie will make good on her threat to send Starla to reform school, so Starla walks to the outskirts of town, and just keeps walking....
If she can get to Nashville and find her momma, then all that she promised will come true: Lulu will be a star. Daddy will come to live in Nashville, too. And her family will be whole and perfect. Walking a lonely country road, Starla accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman traveling alone with a white baby. The trio embarks on a road trip that will change Starla's life forever. She sees for the first time life as it really is - as she reaches for a dream of how it could one day be.

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What the Critics Say

"Starla's fiery independence makes her a likable narrator." (Publishers Weekly)
"It's not easy to keep such a young narrator convincing for more than 300 pages.... Readers will take to Starla and be caught up in her story." (Booklist)
"A coming-of-age story as well as a luminous portrait of courage and the bonds of friendship.... Susan Crandall tells young Starla's story with pitch-perfect tone, evoking 1963 Mississippi and its struggles with a deft hand. I laughed and cried at Starla's keen observances of life and family and the sometimes blurred edges of justice. Like Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and Kathryn Stockett's The Help, Whistling Past the Graveyard is destined to become a classic." (Karen White, New York Times best-selling author)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Thank You Baby Jesus!

What a wonderful sweet coming of age story. With the flavor of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, I was hanging on each and every twist and turn throughout this book. More so than many detective novels I read this year that were advertised as thrillers.

Set in Mississippi in 1963 Starla lives with her strict grandmother. She thinks she has found a greener pasture only to find there is no place like home. The characters are endearing, spirited and complex. The women are strong, the children are gutsy and the best men are those that are tender and thoughtful. The author relays a time and feeling in a way that transforms the reader to a different age.

Amy Rubinate is the one with the pitch perfect tone. I think she did a fabulous job with all the characters.

I enjoyed each and every hour and minute.
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- tooonce72

Feisty red-headed little girl takes on the south

"Here's the thing about gifts." Eula stopped buttering her toast and looked straight at me. "A body don't know how many the good Lord tucked inside them, until the time is right. I reckon a person could go a whole life and not know. That why you got to try lots of things; as many as you can. Experiment."

These are the words of Eula, a black woman who stops to pick up a precocious, feisty, red-headed run away little girl in Mississippi, as the girl tries to escape her overly strict grandmother. The sixties was not an easy time to be a black woman in Mississippi. Yet, despite hardship, Eula is full of quiet wisdom and compassion. Her wonderful insights pepper the chapters of this book.

If Eula's wisdom peppers the book, then the saltiness comes from Starla, the red-headed and VERY feisty run away, who is the voice of this story.

Many times Starla's "leap before looking" approach to life gets her into deep trouble - with sometimes sad and sometimes hilarious results. Watching her question and break the rules, over and over again, is like sitting across the table with a child who's cup of milk is right on the edge of the table. You are telling the child - move your cup - but they don't understand and end up knocking the milk all over the floor. You can see it coming a long ways in advance! The same happens in this book repeatedly. There is no ill intent on Starla's part, but a strong will paired with charming naivety. This combination of character traits allows Starla to see past the racism she has been taught, to the goodness of the people around her.

I really enjoyed the book and will look for others by this author.

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- Laurette

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-09-2013
  • Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC