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Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite
After a year of teaching well-behaved, intelligent students in New York, Kenda Kirkenbaum takes a chance and accepts a job in West Belfield, Mississippi, certain that the only thing different is the location. Unfortunately, Kenda has no idea of social politics in the Deep South. In a town where integration is new and more than unpopular, Kenda must adapt to an entirely archaic (in her mind) method of teaching, behaving, and living. Lieutenant Bobby Wilks Junior High School is undergoing its first year of segregation in a predominately racist community where the KKK is active and mindsets are firm. As Kenda fights to find her place among families who put little stock in education, she must adjust her professional opinion while tackling the responsibility of teaching the very basics to students who are programmed to survive from day to day.
Magnolias Don't Bloom in September: A Young Yankee Teacher is Swept into the Cultural Clashes of Integration in Mississippi by Carol Lynn Luck offers an important perspective of those cultural clashes of integration. Carol Lynn Luck writes with compassion as well as obvious respect for the educator’s role in the lives of her children. Any teacher will find this an inspiring addition to the educator’s “tool box”. In the words of Kenda’s eventual savior, “Smart and gritty; it’d take a lot more than tha’ school could throw atcha to crumble your concrete.” In the ranks of stories such as Teachers and The Concrete Blackboard, Magnolias Don’t Bloom in September is a must-read for every person who enter the halls of academia. One of the best "teacher" books I have EVER read.