Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell
Summary: From acclaimed author Patricia Hruby Powell comes the story of a landmark civil rights case, told in spare and gorgeous verse. In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, injustice and cruelty, two teenagers fell in love. Their life together broke the law, but their determination would change it. Richard and Mildred Loving were at the heart of a Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races, and a story of the devoted couple who faced discrimination, fought it, and won.
Accessible, relatable, and compelling, this book makes an important piece of history come alive. The description “documentary novel” perfectly describes this book. The bulk of the story is told in verse from the alternating points of view of Mildred and Richard Loving, with historical photographs, documents, and quotes seamlessly woven in, placing the very personal struggle of the Lovings in its larger historical context. Loose drawings by Shadra Strickland, deliberately done in the style of visual journalism used in the 1950s, illustrate the verse portions of the story. Mildred and Richard’s romance unfolds from their childhood home of Central Point, Virginia, immersed in the sensory details of blue homespun napkins and pick-up softball games, along with the everyday experience of blunt racism. As the couple falls in love, marries, and moves to Washington, D.C. to avoid being arrested for the crime of interracial marriage, it becomes clear that they never set out to become activists or heroes – they just wanted to be with their families and raise their children in peace. The nonfiction elements are a perfect touch and beautifully integrated into the story, providing context without ever drawing focus from the effects of unjust laws on the lives of real people. The backmatter details the extensive research the author undertook, including interviews with many of the couple’s friends and relatives. In our current climate, this book is even more necessary.
LOVING VS. VIRGINIA is available now.