Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Silence of Our Friends : A Review

I attended high school from 1964 through 1968, in the midst of some of the most intense racial conflict that America faced. The one event that I remember which highlighted discrimination to me occurred in my senior Pre-Calculus course. The girl who sat in front of me had missed a number of classes and upon her return I asked if she was okay. It seems she was Jewish and had been gone during the midst of one of their holidays. After explaining, she said, “I hope you won’t hate me.” It would be years before I understood her fear; but when I did, I understood far more than just her story.

The Silence of Our Friends is another story that took place in the late 60’s - a story that takes place in Houston, TX. Based on actual events, the graphic novel has been slightly changed to maintain the flavor of the times. As the authors write in his postlude to the story:

Some details from these events - as well as names and details about my family and Larry’s - have been changed for storytelling purposes in The Silence of Our Friends. Creating a book like this one requires finding a balance between factual accuracy and emotional authenticity. What we have striven to create is a story that offers access to a particular moment in time, both for those who lived it and for those who are discovering it for the first time.

The authors have accomplished this as they tell the story of two families that focus on events on or around the campus of Texas Southern University. As the two families develop friendships, events spiral out of control. The results might have been catastrophic - except for those who are courageous enough to present the truth to a hostile audience.

The story held my interest, the art was well done. It provided a good introduction to the tensions experienced by the different parties in the racially tense times of the 60’s. Though it would not be a common event, the families remained friends - with sufficiently strong ties they were able to write The Silence of Our Friends.

This review is based on a free electronic copy of the book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.

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