Yard War

Yard War
Age Range
Release Date
August 18, 2015
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Trip Westbrook has spent his first twelve years far from the struggle for civil rights going on in Mississippi. The one black person he knows well is Willie Jane, the family maid, who has been a second mother to him. When Trip invites her son, Dee, to play football in the yard, he discovers the ugly side of his smiling neighbors. Trip’s old pals stop coming by. He is bullied, his house is defaced, and his family is threatened. The Westbrooks will be forced to choose between doing the right thing or losing the only home Trip has ever known. Who knew that playing football in the yard could have such consequences? This engaging, honest, and hopeful novel is full of memorable characters, and brings the civil rights–era South alive for young readers.

Editor review

1 review
Historical Fiction WITH Football!
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Trip is a typical, self-centered junior high student in 1964-- he doesn't think about ripping his new jeans and asking the family maid, Willie Jean, to fix them. He also is okay with sleeping in and then demanding she stop her other work to make him pancakes, and when he needs another boy to play football, why shouldn't Willie Jean's son, Dee, stop working in the yard and play with him? Trip soon starts to see that the way his world works isn't the way that Dee's works. Neighbors complain about a black boy playing in the front yard with white boys, and Trip starts to notice things like the fact that Dee only has a few clothes, and is always hungry. Mississippi is a hot bed of Civil Rights problems at this time, and even Trip's father is finding that he can't just suddenly let "colored people" sit in the "white" waiting room of his medical office without repercussions. Things get so bad for Trip's family after they try to support the Negroes in their town that they consider moving, but eventually decide that they need to stay and see if they can be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
Good Points
I definitely appreciated that it took Trip a while before he saw how Dee was treated in the community. He had some inkling that things were not on the same level for everyone, but it took him a while to feel the full scope. It was also believable that he because friends with Trip and then didn't see why HIS friend should live by a separate set of rules. There were also some good moments when Trip's learned prejudice came out, even though he did truly like Dee. The family's reactions also seemed to ring true.

There are a number of books that put sports in a historical context, from Robert Parker's Edenville Owls to Yep's Dragon Road. Yard War is a great introduction to the Civil Rights movement for readers who might not normally pick up a historical book, but who will gladly read anything and everything that is about football!
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