Title: Loving vs. Virginia
Author: Patricia Hruby Powell; illustrated by Shadra Strickland
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: January 1st, 2017
Age Range: 14-18
Loving vs. Viriginia was the hallmark case that overturned years of laws that made interracial marriage illegal. The story of Milly Jeter and Richard Loving is told in verse from alternating perspectives and readers will be inspired by the courage and love shown by both narrators. Milly and Richard didn’t mean to change any laws, they just wanted to live as a married couple near their families in Virginia. Unfortunately, Milly was black and Richard was white and interracial marriages were illegal in the state of Virginia. They were forced to start their young family while living in D.C., but both were miserable there. Luckily, a young lawyer believed in their case and ended up taking it all the way to the Supreme Court where they won.
This book details a case from our not too distant history as Americans. Laws banning interracial marriage existed as late as 2000 in some places. While both Milly and Richard had passed away before the author had the chance to interview them, Powell was able to speak with several people who knew them personally. She takes their stories and creates beautiful poems out of them. At the same time, Powell also incorporates documents and quotes from the time scattered throughout the book that help the reader to establish where the Lovings fit in with the overall Civil Rights Movement. While readers may pick this book up because of the underlying “love story”, they may find themselves interested in learning more about the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation in general. While this book deals with some heavier themes, the free verse narrative is accessible to younger readers as well.
As a reader, I really loved this book. I loved the way the author made such an impactful topic accessible and interesting to younger readers. My husband and I are a third generation interracial couple in my family. After reading this book, I found out that my grandparents (a white man and a Hispanic woman with dark skin) got married in the 60s and actually lived in the Virginia/D.C. area at the same time that the Lovings did (before the ban on interracial marriage was overturned). I’m grateful that this book prompted me to learn a little more about my own family history and I believe that it might make other readers, teens especially, interested in learning more as well.
This book is especially timely with the new movie Loving coming out on November 4th. Teens who watch the movie may be interested in learning more about the people and the case of Loving vs. Virginia specifically. This book would be perfect for those who aren’t especially strong readers or who simply want to read a little bit more about the case without getting in too deep.