66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 1997
Believe it or not, I was actually forced to read the book, "Coming of Age in Mississippi" as a freshman this past year by my college history professor. It was such a thick book, and I was sure that, knowing my professor's tastes, it would be a boring read.
However, upon reading it, I had a pleasant surprise. It was such an insightful, moving, and eye-opening book. It had me glued from page one.
As a book about a young black girl's (the author) struggle to overcome racism in the south, it is a very potent history lesson. I had thought that I understood what it was like for young African-Americans of the 1950's and '60's, but I couldn't have been more wrong. This book opened up my eyes and made me truly see the harsh reality of growing up as Anne Moody did. She has many recollections of childhood and adult aquaintances murdered by the Ku Klux Klan, as well as the story of her Mississippi Freedom Summer when she had to hide at night in high grass to avoid the Klan. It was at this time that she realized that she was on their so called "Black List." These very vivid circumstances were a slap in the face that almost made me tremble right along with the characters. Furthermore, Ms. Moody's use of common language, and the very realistic way in which she describe's her life, greatly aided me in fully understanding the enormity of the situation at that time.
Another book that can be compared to this one is, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou. Although this book is much more harsh and gritty than Ms. Moody's, it gave me much of the same feeling of insight.
The only disappointment in Anne Moody's book to me was that the ending left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied. Unlike Maya Angelou's book, it does not have a sequel. But then again, this may be part of the book's genius in that it mirrors Anne Moody's own disatisfaction with the sluggishness of the Civil Rights Movement and shows that there is no conclusive end to the struggle against racism
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2002
In the well-written autobiography, Coming Of Age In Mississippi, Anne Moody describes what it is like to grow up black in Mississippi. Her experiences growing up formulated her outlook on life. Born in 1940 Anne grew up during the thick of the Civil Rights movement. She had to deal with prejudice from blacks and whites alike. Throughout the book Anne struggles with her feelings on what she believes in. Along with that, she must deal with the hardships of being poor and the outcome of her actions. As a result of her struggles a hero is born. Anne uses her heroism and strong will to make things happen. The book is well written and conveys the life experiences and feelings of a black girl as seen through the author's own reflections.
The book Coming Of Age In Mississippi is separated into 4 different sections that each tell about a different time in Anne's life. The first section of the book deals with Anne's childhood. When Anne was 4 her father left her mother and younger sister. After her father left her mother had another baby, by a solider named Raymond, whom she eventually married. When Anne was 9 years old she got her first job sweeping an old white lady's porch and sidewalks. She got paid 75 cents and 2 gallons of milk a week. Anne stopped working for the lady when the lady had her cleaning the whole house (p.44). Throughout her childhood Anne learned just what she must do to survive in Mississippi. Her experiences as a child set the guidelines for the rest of her life. It wasn't until Anne started high school that she started hating the prejudice Negroes received. "I was 15 years old when I began to hate people... I hated all the whites who were responsible for the countless murders... But I also hated Negroes. I hated them for not standing up and doing something about the murders." (p. 129) It was because of this feeling that Anne started to question the way she was treated. She started pushing away from her comfort zone and searching for what she believed was right. During her senior year of high school Anne left her mothers house for good and went to live with her father. With this action she started to sever the ties that bound her to her family and the old way of life. In college Anne put her newfound independence to use. She started a boycott against the cafeteria food because it was unsanitary. "We don't eat until he, (President Buck), gets rid of Miss Harris, (the cook), and that leak is fixed." (p. 235) This was said by Anne in an attempt to rile up her fellow students. Throughout college Anne started doing more things to help Negroes win equal rights. For example she worked on and off with organizations such as the SNCC and the NAACP that promoted equal rights for blacks. Towards the end of her college education Anne jumped feet first into "the movement". While working in the movement Anne experienced horrors she had only heard about back home. She dealt with prejudice and threats in all shapes and forms from all different people. One of the first encounters of prejudice she had while working in the movement happened during her first sit-in. "The white students, (in the store), started chanting all kinds of anti-Negro slogans... The rest of the seats except the three we were occupying had been roped off to prevent others from sitting down. A couple of the boys took one end of the rope and made it into a hangman's noose. Several attempts were made to put it around our necks." (p. 265) Despite many experiences worse than the sit-in Anne continued to push for what she believed was right. Through her work she gave herself and the other people around her a reason to live. Anne finally figured out that there was no special secret to being happy and rich. It comes from what you do with your life. This realization completed her transformation from girl to heroine.
Throughout the book Anne Moody tells her story in such a way that it captivates the reader. The book is not just an autobiography but a true story of a young heroine. The qualities of a heroine are not as noticeable in the beginning of the book. As Anne's life progresses the reader sees those qualities start to grow and flourish. Through the development of Anne's faults and virtues the reader is drawn into the fight against racial discrimination. Throughout the book you are fighting for what Anne believes in. You are so drawn into her actions that you flinch when someone is treated unfairly and cheer when an action is just. Moreover the book grabs your interest and holds onto it until the very last sentence.
During Anne's life she dealt with hardships unimaginable to most people. Due to her experiences she gained the qualities of a heroine. Using her memories Anne Moody lets the reader jump into the shoes of a young black girl growing up in Mississippi. While reading this book the reader gets to feel what Anne felt growing up. The way the book is written makes the reader want to go out and help people who are in the same predicament as Anne.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 1999
Anne Moody's powerful story brings the reader into the world of Negroes in the fifties and sixties, where on a daily bases, they faced bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice. Her words make the reader fell as if they're sitting next to her at the Woolworths food counter, having food thrown at them for sharing her views on life. She makes her fear of being beaten by the local police a fear you feel as the knot in your stomach gets tighter with each page. But along with these fears and acts of violence, you see the courage and strength in this young girl that makes her such a memorable individual. This book tells you the story of a fighter for eqality that just won't quit, teaching us that when times are tough, you don't run and hide. She has described every painful detail of the equal right movement that became her life, so that other generations as well as her own could know what she as well as many others were forced to live with. And along with these admirable strengths, Anne Moody reminds us that even when we think we've achived our goal, that doesn't mean it's time to stop and relax. She shows us that there is always something better to strive for.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Thus a civil rights advocate was born.
I read this book seven years ago, on a whim, because I was wanting to understand why Southerners were especially proud of their heritage when there was so much suffering among its own people, especially its blacks.
Ann Moddy lived a life that most whites would be ashamed of, but that many blacks endured. This is a part of American history that mainstreem history books seldom cover in any detail and leave to the "Black Studies" department.
Moody lived her life struggling for identity, struggling for change, struggling for advancement. She made something of herself and has never looked back. (I read somewhere that she doesn't like to talk about her growing-up years and has lived a life of seclusion.). She can only be admired for what she has made of herself.
Moody never once expresses hurt. All she wanted was justice for all. She left Mississippi with more than a tinge of anger.
This book should be required reading for all social studies classes. It is engrossing without being sentimental or overly emotional (and it certainly is not "girly" at all.) For anyone, regardless of color, gender or legal status, this should be a must-read.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2003
This was a book that I was required to read for my college history class. I'm usually not big on books that are required, so I decided to get a headstart on this one so I could keep up in class. The book starts a little slow, but by the time she gets to about middle school, and especially high school, I found myself unable to put the book down. The imagery is amazing. As Anne gets a little depressed and unmotivated, I could feel myself become unmotivated and read the book less. I felt ackward reading about the situation with her mother when she and her sister were living together, you can just feel the tension in the dialogue. This is a really good book to read, whether it's a requirement or not because it is full of a lot of personal insights.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2002
This is an excellent autobiography, written by a committed black civil rights worker from a poor, Mississippi family. It is unique in that it shows what the movement was like not for its famous leaders, but for the those unknown, rank-and-file activists who regularly risked their lives to achieve social change. The book reveals what deep-south living conditions were like both before and during the civil rights movement, and what the activists faced in terms of prejudice at home, indifference or hostility from the federal government, and failed expectations about economic change. This book should be read by every college or advanced high school student studying American history.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2012
Quite frankly, this book is one of those instances where the idea sometimes feels better than actually reading the book. Don't get me wrong, at times the book was incredibly powerful - and knowing that Anne Moody went through these trials is remarkable considering that these events really occurred not so long ago. But the powerful building in the beginning falters towards the end. In fact, the last 150 pages or so are a blur of college, shopping, chatting with girlfriends and small protests. You really don't feel as connected to her struggles as a regular college student when you've just read 200 pages about her awful and scarring childhood. The way the book ends right before the civil rights movement really ramps up is indicative of the kind of let down feeling I got after reading it. Had I stopped at page 200 or so, maybe I would have given it a 3, but it got too bogged down, and quite frankly boring towards the end. Thats not even mentioning the letdown about where the book actually ends given its context in history.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2010
This book will really suck you in. It's hard for people who aren't from the South to understand the family dynamics, the method of speak, the rural center of it all, etc. But the time period covered while (possibly) somewhat far-removed from today's standards of living is what drives the story forward. The conditions described are both deplorable an' fascinating, an' anyone who thinks slavery ended in 1865 would be greatly challenged by the childhood stories recounted by Anne Moody. One'a the most vivid to me being her description of the chicken factory she worked at in New Orleans. There's no traditional arc here either an' no false hope, possibly because it was published in 1968 at the height of social unrest, but I wouldn't call it a downer either. Its as straightforward as it gets; tumultuous, surreal at times, filled with disillusion an' ultimate uncertainty. But, you will be better for having explored it. I've passed it on to several friends and (if I ever get it back) I intend to read it again.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 1999
A compelling and powerful work of non-fiction, Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody is a searing account of a black girl's struggle to survive in a white world. Written through the eyes of the author, we, the readers, are able to experience firsthand exactly what Anne went through during her years growing up in the deep South. Coming of Age in Mississippi chronicles a young woman's trek into adulthood as well as her stark realization of the prejudice and discrimination that exists around her. This realization develops into anger and this anger eventually inspires her to take a stand. Her work as an activist brings her all over Mississippi, where she meets a wide array of people, each with their own viewpoints on the situation. Anne is even forbidden to return home because of her involvement with the Movement. Full of rich description and written with such honesty and audacity, Coming of Age in Mississippi paints a stunning portrait of the South and its own unique way of life. Another novel that is similar to Coming of Age... is Black Boy by Richard Wright. It is also an autobiography about the struggles of a young Negro growing up in the South. Black Boy has the same feel of Coming of Age... in that it is written in narrative form and deals with similar topics, such as racism and intolerance. Richard also possesses a kindred spirit that wants to put an end to all the hatred. A Time to Kill, written by John Grisham, also deals with prejudice issues, but this time the story is fictional and reaches a new level because it involves hostility from both blacks and whites that result in violence. Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody is poignant and touching as well as educational and honest.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2007
This book is one of the the best books to help you to REALLY understand the Civil Rights Movement and what it meant to be black in the south during that era. Anne Moody lets the reader into her life in a remarkable way and helps her audience comprehend what the south was like (not only for the black population, but for black women as well) and why Civil Rights workers, like herself, put up with so much for their cause. It is very hard for me to put into words what a great book this is-it will open your eyes to history even if you don't like history or reading I guarantee you will LOVE this book! Definitely a MUST READ.
Other books that compliment this book well, if you're interested in the subject are: Passing, Quicksand, and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl