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My Mother the Cheerleader    by Robert Sharenow order for
My Mother the Cheerleader
by Robert Sharenow
Order:  USA  Can
Laura Geringer, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Thirteen-year-old Louise Lorraine Collins lives in a boarding house owned by her mother in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Louise's education comes to a halt in 1960 when she is pulled out of school in protest of a court ordered integration that puts a black student in her school. Ruby Bridges is only a first grader but she is subjected to racist remarks and threats by white crowds every morning. Louise's mother Pauline is part of those crowds. She and the other women become known as the cheerleaders.

Mysterious Morgan Miller arrives from up North to visit his brother and repair their relationship. He stays at Pauline's boarding house, bringing with him a point of view different from those around her, making Louise question everything she has been taught. In Miller, Louise finds someone who cares about her thoughts and opinions.

Louise follows Miller and eavesdrops on adult conversations to discover as much as she can about the boarder. When he is in danger from the Klan, she learns some startling secrets about her mother's past.

Louise and Charlotte Dupree, a black woman, run the boardinghouse while Louise's mother takes credit and plays at being a southern belle. Charlotte takes Louise into the back community, giving her a more balanced view of the tumultuous times.

Sharenow has written a provocative novel involving serious issues. Louise's memories are recounted in her adult voice allowing her to look back on that time with a different perspective, realizing that there is great danger in allowing a few to express opinions for all.

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