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Whistling Past the Graveyard | [Susan Crandall]

Whistling Past the Graveyard

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. 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.
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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.

©2013 Susan Crandall (P)2013 Dreamscape Media, LLC

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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (338 )
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  •  
    Laurette Red Deer, AB, Canada 07-16-14
    Laurette Red Deer, AB, Canada 07-16-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marjorie Santa Rosa, CA, United States 12-11-13
    Marjorie Santa Rosa, CA, United States 12-11-13 Member Since 2015

    I enjoy literary fiction with character depth and psychological exploration. I am in my 50s, work in psychology, and love the outdoors.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Reminds Me of Huck Finn"

    This a great adventure story reminiscent of Huck Finn with a female heroine. I just hated to see the story end. The main two characters become two unlikely friends and each adds to the other's life in surprising ways. The storyline would be appropriate for young adults and adults alike with lessons to learn about parenting, racism, friendships, and the importance of determination and dedication. The writing flows beautifully and as I listened I was able to envision each scenario and live the adventures. I highly recommend this book. The reader was perfect.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Sacramento, Ca, United States 02-22-14
    Amazon Customer Sacramento, Ca, United States 02-22-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Excellent! Loved it!"

    This book was chosen as our bookclub read for the month. I must say I really enjoyed the book. The narrator did an excellent job. Loved the characters, especially the relationship between Starla and Eula. Loved the excitement of this journey the two of them had to travel. The faith and hope these two character had, not to give up. I just loved it

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 11-20-13
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 11-20-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    31 of 34 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Plemmons Spartanburg, SC 02-19-14
    S. Plemmons Spartanburg, SC 02-19-14
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    "This Book Has It All!"
    Where does Whistling Past the Graveyard rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Definitely in the top 5.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Whistling Past the Graveyard?

    There are too many to name just one.


    What about Amy Rubinate’s performance did you like?

    Exceptional.


    Who was the most memorable character of Whistling Past the Graveyard and why?

    Starla.


    Any additional comments?

    One of the best books I've ever read or listened too. It will make you laugh out loud and shed a tear or two. The characters of Starla and Eula are so well written, you will feel as if you know them as well as they know each other. This is one of those books I didn't want to end. Ms. Ruminate does a fantastic job of voicing the characters.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Potts Camp, MS 38659 12-04-13
    Nancy Potts Camp, MS 38659 12-04-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Loved!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Whistling Past the Graveyard to be better than the print version?

    Yes, because the narrator, Amy Rubinate, was awesome! I love her voice and want to hear more from her!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Whistling Past the Graveyard?

    The fireball of a main character was a hoot!


    What about Amy Rubinate’s performance did you like?

    Her beautiful southern accent made me proud to be a southern girl!


    If you could take any character from Whistling Past the Graveyard out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I would love to get to know Starla even better! She will be a fabulous grownup. Let's hear from Starla the teenager!


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela Saugus, MA, United States 07-26-13
    Angela Saugus, MA, United States 07-26-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Excellent plot and entertaining characters"
    What did you love best about Whistling Past the Graveyard?

    Starla's personality and how her character grew throughout the story.


    What other book might you compare Whistling Past the Graveyard to and why?

    The Help, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, The Kitchen House. Similar settings and issues but a unique story.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    SPOILER ALERT: when Porter stood up to and broke free of Mamie. Creating change for Starla and himself.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    They all had been through so much. but they never lost hope and things turned out ok towards the end. So many times in the book when th ings were near impossible and they never lost their faith or hope. So hard to pick just one moment.


    Any additional comments?

    This was an amazing story with entertaining characters. At times it was difficult to read. But as I said these people never lost hope. worthy of a reread imo. I am hoping to see more from Me Crandall and Starla. I highly recommend this

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachael Raleigh, NC, United States 06-19-14
    Rachael Raleigh, NC, United States 06-19-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Good but a little annoying at times"

    I bought this book because audible said I would like it if I like "the invention of wings" which I loved. This book is a bit juvenile at times. The main character is 9 years old and told from her perspective. I liked her character overall but I felt like the story dragged at times because it went on and on about her unrealistic 9 yo thought process. The book was entertaining just doesn't hold a candle to invention of wings.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nikki Columbus, OH, United States 02-19-14
    Nikki Columbus, OH, United States 02-19-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Great listen but not what I was expecting"
    If you could sum up Whistling Past the Graveyard in three words, what would they be?

    Unexpected! I was expecting an "coming to age" novel. Though this is, the twist and turns that took place floored me.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Whistling Past the Graveyard?

    When Starla gets in the car with Eula. From the get go I thought, oh no, but I was not expecting the chain of events that took place from that moment on.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen 06-02-14
    Karen 06-02-14 Member Since 2011
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    "This is NOT like "The Help""
    Would you try another book from Susan Crandall and/or Amy Rubinate?

    Possibly. I just didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I was going to, based on the reviews comparing it to "The Help". It's nowhere NEAR as good. You don't begin to love the characters, and it feels a bit preachy.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I can't come up with a Most Interesting.
    Least Interesting - the main character. Just a bratty kid that drove me nuts.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Amy Rubinate?

    Possibly.


    Did Whistling Past the Graveyard inspire you to do anything?

    It almost inspired me to stop listening.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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