Sigh. As Langston made his way into the library, I felt that I could breathe again as he had finally found a place where he was safe. The father-son duo left behind their slow-paced life in Alabama for the hustle and bustle of Chicago, searching for a better life. As father works, Langston attends school where his peers constantly bully him. From his clothes, his shoes, and even his accent, the students wouldn’t leave Langston alone as he tried to adjust to his new surroundings. I got emotional as I read this section as the students physically and vocally abused him. His own classroom teacher even got in on the action, when they drew attention to his accent.
I felt for the two of them as living in Chicago was so different from their previous life in Alabama. When Langston discovers the public library, I was hoping this would provide some relief. Would he find a room that he could study in, could he make friends with a librarian so he’d have an adult he could talk with, or might he meet someone new there? In reality, Langston found much more there. Langston’s first discovery was that this public library was different than the one back in Alabama. Langston was actually allowed to walk through the front door. This library allowed everyone, regardless of color to use its facilities. It’s what’s inside the library that really changes him. As he walks inside, up on the walls, so that everyone can see them, are famous black individuals. Langston can’t believe he’s seeing them, on the walls.
The librarian Mrs. Cook is a nice woman who helps Lanston discover what the library holds and what Langston has within him. I felt this relief, a restoration working within Langston as he visited/thought about the library, for now with Mrs. Cook’s assistance, he had something bigger, a desire. I really enjoyed this book.