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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy, read by Donna Allen. 

Recipient of a Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor 

Winner of the 2019 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction 

A NYPL Top Ten of 2019

A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, 14-year-old Jo Ann Allen was one of 12 African American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann - clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students - found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.

©2019 Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy (P)2020 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"Readers will empathize with Jo Ann's honest incredulity [...] Such gems relevant to today's politics, along with the narrator's strong inner voice, make this offering stand out. Powerful storytelling of a not-so-distant past." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"Insightful, immediate, and passionate [...] Lyrical yet hard-hitting account of a pivotal chapter in the history of desegregation." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"This evocatively told, carefully researched memoir-in-verse [...] adeptly shows readers that, like the Clinton Twelve, they too can be part of something greater than themselves." (School Library Journal, starred review)

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Excellent for Kids & Adults

My 10 year old daughter read this and learned a lot from it. I read it after her and felt the same. The author was adeptly able to really put her feelings into this experience. It made it much more real to me than reading about it in the history books.