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The Silence of Our Friends Paperback – January 17, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 6 - 12
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: First Second (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596436182
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596436183
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Set in Houston in 1968, this graphic novel is based on Long’s childhood memories of the events surrounding a little-remembered incident from the civil rights movement. As the students of Texas Southern University gear up for a demonstration involving Stokely Carmichael’s Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, smaller satellite confrontations around town hint at the violence to come. The story unfolds from two sets of eyes, those of a white TV reporter (Long’s father) and a black demonstration leader. Deciding that “men of conscience have got to join together,” the two forge a friendship that crosses the color line, is not looked upon favorably by either of their communities, and gets tested when the demonstration turns ugly. Powell is one of the finest young cartoonists around, and his artwork—with full-bodied figures, a loose compositional style, and inky black-and-white tones—unflinchingly mines the drama of both petty slashes of racism and larger instances of civil unrest. All the more powerful for its unfortunate familiarity, this account also shows how small acts of humanity can outclass even the most determined hatred. --Ian Chipman

Review

"[This] civil rights graphic novel already seems to have 'Eisner nomination' written down the side." - Bleeding Cool

"You can't help but feel moved by this story and you can't walk away unchanged. The combination of story and art works perfectly in capturing this event and this time period. I'm predicting this book will be one of the best graphic novels of the year, perhaps even one of the best books of the year." - Musings of a Librarian

"...absolutely engaging and a complex graphic novel that I think could be analyzed on a deeper level and has broader historical themes. It is fantastic from beginning to the very end with the author's note and will hopefully affect you as much as it did me." - Good Books and Good Wine

"...an engrossing narrative about race in America, while honestly dealing with a host of other real-world issues, including familial relationships, friendship, dependency, "other"-ness, and perhaps most importantly, the search for common ground." - Publisher's Weekly

A moving evocation of a tipping point in our country's regrettable history of race relations, Long and Demonakos's story flows perfectly in Eisner and Ignatz Award winner Powell's (Swallow Me Whole) graceful and vivid yet unpretty black-and-gray wash.. - Library Journal

Customer Reviews

The story held my interest, the art was well done.
Upstate New York Reader
I'm predicting this book will be one of the best graphic novels of the year, perhaps even one of the best books of the year.
Andy Shuping
First and foremost, the book is a great story - filled with tension and understated power.
J. Minton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Andy Shuping on January 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Cross posted from my blog

Every so often a book will come along that will challenge you, that will make you think, and that will hopefully leave you a bit better after you've read it. And this is just one such book. And yes some people are probably thinking that's high praise for a graphic novel, but the story will give you chills within the first three pages and suck you in and not let you go until the very end of the story.

It's 1968 in Houston, Texas and the fight for civil rights is heating up. Young Mark Long's father, Jack Long, is the local TV station's race reporter and he's embedded into the third ward, one of the poorest parts of the town. Jack is attempting to cover the events occurring in town, such as the expulsion of the the SNCC (student nonviolent coordinating committee) from Texas State University, and do justice to the people that he's covering. He's saved at one event by Larry Thompson, a local black leader, and the two become friends and their lives intertwine. One white family from a notoriously racist neighborhood in the burbs and one black family from the poorest ward in Houston, come together and find common ground in a conflict that threatens to tear the city apart. But before the end it may all come crashing down with the arrest of the TSU five. Which will be the loudest before the end, the words of hate or the silence of friends? This semi-autobiographical tale is based upon true events of Mark Long's father.

One of the problem that I normally see with autobiographical stories, like this one, is that they often try to give the reader to much information about the story and invariably the reader gets lost or there are moment that leave us wondering why we're supposed to care about the story. But this book...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Upstate New York Reader on January 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
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 their 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.
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Format: Paperback
If you don't know by now (then you haven't been paying attention), but I am a huge history nerd and graphic novel junkie. When you add those two together, you get someone who is paler than pale and loves the indoors. But you also get someone who is constantly desperate to find good historical fiction/memoirs/non-fiction/novels. I was told about this book by the owner of my local graphic novel store. I told him that I was looking for a good book about the Civil Rights Movement that was a "slice of life." My hope was to use the book in a class that I am developing. He said that this book would do the trick, so I grabbed it. While this graphic novel is good, it's not great and certainly isn't the best out there on this subject.

The graphic novel follows two families in Houston, Texas in 1968. One family is white, one is black. While the story shows us all of the characters, is really focuses on the fathers; one of whom is a news reporter and the other is a professor. The two strike up a friendship that defies the cultural norms of the time and even reaches a violent breaking point in which the friends have to decide to save each other or the movement.

The story is touching, insightful, and very moving. By the end, I had tears in my eyes. However, I didn't feel like it dug deep enough into the characters of the movement. In fact, you just receive a sweeping generalization of "this is a black family in Houston" "this is a white family in Houston"....don't they look the same? This is a good tactic, but I found it to be superficial. I wanted some more meat! Additionally, I wasn't truly invested in the story until about the last 50 pages. Still, those final 50 were outstanding!!! In that way the book redeemed itself; however, I wish it had done so earlier.
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