After working with Kristin Levine on her first novel, The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, I knew that Kristin had a true gift for bringing history alive and making it feel both current and relevant. Her stories are vibrant and suspenseful; her writing reverberates with warmth and deep emotion; her characters feel like trusted friends telling you something true, something you know you need to hear, even if hearing it is a hard thing. So I knew when she shared with me the very first pages of her second novel, The Lions of Little Rock, that Kristin was poised to make a very special literary contribution, she was readying remarkable characters to become our friends--ones who would tell us a very important truth about who we were and who we are. I knew these characters and this book would be beloved, but I had no idea just how strong a chord it would strike. Lilly Ghahremani wrote on her blog yesterday,
The Lions of Little Rock is a powerful book for so many reasons. On the surface it is a sweet, thoughtful tale, and one might mistakenly file it away as historical fiction and believe that the lessons end there. But the point is that the story is important to us today, and will be every day until we properly square away our racial issues. One can only hope that a unique book like this contributes to a gentler younger generation, one that approaches each and every member of their classroom with more interest and understanding. Not just the black children- all children who look a little bit different than them, or act a little bit different. It is a tale of acceptance that I guess I wish more adults would read and learn from.
Lilly had an affecting personal connection to the story and she wrote about that connection poignantly and with grace. It was an emotional experience to read her words. Hers is just the kind of connection I'd hoped readers would make and a testament to why books that show us all of who we are as a society is a must like air or water. Read Lilly's words, be affected and just a little bit changed.