BOOK REVIEW - A Mighty Long Way (Adapted for Young Readers): My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School by Carlotta Walls Lanier and Lisa Frazier Page
A Mighty Long Way (Adapted for Young Readers): My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School by Carlotta Walls Lanier and Lisa Frazier Page
Genre: Middle Grade Biography
Pub Date: January 17, 2023
At fourteen years old, Carlotta Walls was the youngest member
of the Little Rock Nine. The journey to integration in a place deeply against
it would not be not easy. Yet Carlotta, her family, and the other eight
students and their families answered the call to be part of the desegregation
order issued by the US Supreme Court in its 1954 Brown v. Board of
As angry mobs protested, the students were escorted into Little Rock Central High School by escorts from the 101st Airborne Division, which had been called in by then-president Dwight D. Eisenhower to ensure their safety. The effort needed to get through that first year in high school was monumental, but Carlotta held strong. Ultimately, she became the first Black female ever to walk across the Central High stage and receive a diploma.
The Little Rock Nine experienced traumatic and life-changing events not only as a group but also as individuals, each with a distinct personality and a different story. This is Carlotta’s courageous story.
Content Warning: racism, violence, segregation in education
While I won’t call myself a US History buff, there are eras I am deeply curious about. The Civil Rights Movement is one of those. I think it’s because I’ve lived the results of the sacrifices, they made to create social change. I love that John Lewis encourages getting into “good trouble” and I’ve often wondered what it was like for their people themselves. At 14, Carlotta was the youngest of the 9 and had no choice in the role she played during this crucial point in time. When I saw this tour, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
This book did not disappoint. This is the story of how Carlotta Wall LaNier became one of the Little Rock Nine. What I like most about memoirs is the deep dive we take into a person’s history and how their history fits into a much larger movement. I find it fascinating to read and was immediately drawn in.
Told from Carlotta’s point of view, I can’t imagine how difficult a book like this is to write. I admire her honesty and the bravery she shows in telling her story. Told in brutal detail those sections are uncomfortable to read, yet absolutely necessary to understand the depth of trauma inflicted upon them. It was interesting to learn that only 3 of the 9 graduated from Central High School. It was shocking to learn why.
For many years’ Carlotta’s story went untold. I understand why she did not want to talk about her story, and I am glad she’s changed her mind. Given our culture today, this book is an important book for young readers. It is a history that needs to be told and a great conversation starter for young readers and is relevant to understanding how our culture has evolved.
The book is well written and provoked a variety of emotions as I read it. I am inspired by her story of courage, persistence, and ability to move forward and live a fulfilled life. She truly is an example of success despite the cruelties and fear that are the cornerstone of her adolescent experience.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning an insider’s perspective of attending Central High School as one of the Little Rock 9 and the youngest.
Overall Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
About Carlotta Walls LaNier:
College–now the University of Northern Colorado, on whose board of trustees she sits. After working for the YWCA, she founded her own real estate brokerage firm, LaNier and Company. A sought-after lecturer, LaNier speaks across the country, and she has received the Congressional Medal of Honor and two honorary doctorate degrees. She is the mother of two children, Whitney and Brooke, and lives in Englewood, Colorado, with her husband, Ira.
Carlotta Walls LaNier is available for select readings and lectures. To inquire about a possible appearance, please contact Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau at email@example.com or visit http://www.prhspeakers.com.