Darkroom
Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White is an arresting and moving personal story about childhood, race, and identity in the American South, rendered in stunning illustrations by the author, Lila Quintero Weaver.  In 1961, when Lila was five, she and her family emigrated from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Marion, Alabama, in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt. As educated, middle-class Latino immigrants in a region that was defined by segregation, the Quinteros occupied a privileged vantage from which to view the racially charged culture they inhabited. Weaver and her family were firsthand witnesses to key moments in the civil rights movement.  But Darkroom is her personal story as well: chronicling what it was like being a Latina girl in the Jim Crow South, struggling to understand both a foreign country and the horrors of our nation’s race relations. Weaver, who was neither black nor white, observed very early on the inequalities in the American culture, with its blonde and blue-eyed feminine ideal. Throughout her life, Lila has struggled to find her place in this society and fought against the discrimination around her.

Darkroom Details

TitleDarkroom
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 1st, 2012
PublisherUniversity Alabama Press
ISBN0817357149
ISBN-139780817357146
Number of pages264 pages
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Autobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Comics, Biography, Historical

Darkroom Review

  • David Schaafsma
    January 28, 2015
    A first book, written in the author's middle age, as a special project for completion of her BA. Sort of came out of the blue for me; a first book, a university press, not a known comics artist, a memoir about the civil rights movement told by an Argentinian-American who grew up in the South in the sixties. . . so I was skeptical, actually; or, I thought this would be earnest and somewhat naive and "unpolished." Snobbish expectations? So I was wrong, this is a really really good book, and in the A first book, written in the author's middle age, as a special project for completion of her BA. Sort of came out of the blue for me; a first book, a university press, not a known comics artist, a memoir about the civil rights movement told by an Argentinian-American who grew up in the South in the sixties. . . so I was skeptical, actually; or, I thought this would be earnest and somewhat naive and "unpolished." Snobbish expectations? So I was wrong, this is a really really good book, and in the light of recent events we in the U.S. actually might remember for a long time--the killing of African American civilians by white police officers, some of the proceedings on tape, and the killing of five police officers by an African American in Dallas, last week, in July, 2016. So how strange is it that I am reading this book, a book about coming of age, now for the second time with my class on Young Adult Graphic novels. Quintero Weaver tells the story of her childhood immigration to Marion, Alabama from Buenos Aires, Argentina in the sixties. She grew up as a "non-white" in this community, but apparently at the periphery of prejudice, at least in a personal sense. She was an outsider, but not the victim of racism, and a witness of the racism of the times, in that place, and gradually, just as film develops in her father's darkroom, her eyes learn to see, images become clearer. I like that metaphor, and her title,which calls forth the idea of recording film/images to help us "see" the sometimes difficult past. I found her story affecting and though not completely new for me--I had grown up in the north during the same period; I know where I was when I learned Martin Luther King and JFK and Bobby Kennedy were shot; I was steeped in the words of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Mandela--in terms of observations of a racist time and place, still it was a little unique, given her perspective. It's a kind of reflection about her own outsider-ness and outsider-ness in general in the US, then. A looking back on a dramatic and shameful period of history. A companion piece for any study of the time. And she could also reflect on political events in Argentina which she knew about. And now, in the US! My class interviewed her via Skype in July 2016.Artistically, the work is impressive, more than solid, in black and white, pencil drawings, with attractive layouts, less comics than illustrated picture book in concept. I thought it was an impressive "debut". She's not a lifelong illustrator, but this is a remarkable achievement. It began with her BA thesis project at the University of Alabama and just grew from there, with a lot of hard work and nurturing. In a time in which you might wish issues of civil rights and racial strife in the U.S. were a long gone issue, we can possibly use this text to reflect on the way the world is not very much changed at all in some ways.Personal connection: Reading the acknowledgements, Quintero Weaver credits as centrally important to the project James Hall, a friend and former colleague, who mentored the project along the way, helping establish a special exhibit of the work at UAB. Cool!
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  • El
    February 23, 2017
    To give you an idea of the sort of person I am, my boss recently asked me if I wanted to participate in the committee meeting soon to pick a book for everyone on campus to read in the fall semester. As previously mentioned in another review, you can wave a book in my face and I'll follow you to the ends of the earth. Tell me I have the opportunity to be on a committee that tells students, staff, and faculty what to read excites me to no end. Tonight was our first meeting.We haven't made any fina To give you an idea of the sort of person I am, my boss recently asked me if I wanted to participate in the committee meeting soon to pick a book for everyone on campus to read in the fall semester. As previously mentioned in another review, you can wave a book in my face and I'll follow you to the ends of the earth. Tell me I have the opportunity to be on a committee that tells students, staff, and faculty what to read excites me to no end. Tonight was our first meeting.We haven't made any final decisions yet, but some suggestions were made. One of the librarians came armed with graphic novels which then turned into a discussion about graphic novels being "picture books", and would people be down with that, and the sad realization that not everyone on the committee even likes to read. Sigh.This was one of the graphic novels the librarian brought, and since it was one of her suggestions I hadn't read yet, I of course asked to borrow it. You know, for research.I read this on the bus ride home and while I waited for dinner. I was pretty enthralled.In 1961, when the author was five years old, she came with her family to Marion, Alabama from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As Weaver grew up, she witnessed racial injustices frequently, and had to deal with the realization that while she wasn't white, she also wasn't black. She was a Latino girl in a very segregated Southern city. This is her story growing up, dealing with her experiences, understanding her world around her, and trying to understand her own identity and place in that world.I don't know if this will have my vote for the Common Reader in the fall, but I think it's a good contender.
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  • Raina
    September 15, 2015
    When I picked up this book, I was initially skeptical. It's a paperback published by a university press, the cover design isn't awesome, and it's a graphic novel memoir about the southern civil rights movement from the perspective of someone who 1. has never published anything - much less a graphic novel - before, and 2. isn't black. Wow, were those first impressions offbase.Quintero Weaver tells the story of her childhood immigration to Marion, Alabama from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She talks, d When I picked up this book, I was initially skeptical. It's a paperback published by a university press, the cover design isn't awesome, and it's a graphic novel memoir about the southern civil rights movement from the perspective of someone who 1. has never published anything - much less a graphic novel - before, and 2. isn't black. Wow, were those first impressions offbase.Quintero Weaver tells the story of her childhood immigration to Marion, Alabama from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She talks, directly, about what it was like to be a part of the only (apparent) non-white, non-black family in her community. She discusses the different effects emigration and immigration had on her and each of her sisters (as the family moved back and forth from Argentina to the United States, some of the siblings were born in South America, and others in North America). And then, she talks about what it was like to live a block away on the night that Jimmie Lee Jackson was killed during a peaceful voting rights march in 1965.It's a chilling story.But a story in context.This is a story that has stuck with me - that I've found myself thinking about afterwards. As I read, I found myself grabbing paper and a pen to notate sections I wanted to remember.For instance, page 66, Quintero Weaver describes how reading her older sister's collection of books enriched her personal education. In addition to depicting the impact of literacy, for me, it drew forth the particular quality of grabbing a print book off a shelf and reading it in secret. That experience is hard to duplicate in digital form.On page 81, she says "Somehow daddy lacked the self-consciousness that usually comes with outsider status." This made me wonder if he truly lacked that self-consciousness, or if he refused it. Made me wonder if people attain that self-consciousness quality based on personality type, experience, nature, nurture, astrological sign, or what. When is being aware of your outsider status a benefit, and when is it a problem?On page 94, I loved the way that she depicts a life of routine. I wonder if being a newcomer to making comic books gives her a fresh face on sequential picture storytelling. Although I don't always think her drawing is particularly good, she does things in unexpected ways, and with a fantastic sense of emotional impact.This book epitomizes why I value reading memoirs in graphic novel form. When writers incorporate pictures into their rendering of the past, so much value is added. It's an important book to read. I'm so glad I read it this year.
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  • Edward Sullivan
    June 15, 2012
    An exceptional graphic memoir. Lila Quintero was a young girl when she immigrated from Argentia to Marion, Alabama with her family in the 1960s where she witnessed segregation and racial violence. A personal story that offers wonderful insights into the immigrant experience and the Civil Rights Movement from a unique perspective.
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  • W.
    July 23, 2012
    I ran across this book and author by chance at the Arkansas Literary Festival this past April. It is a rare look at the civil rights movement: from the perspective of Latino immigrants to Alabama. Given Alabama's immigration laws today, this book is a reminder of how the past is prologue.
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  • Frances
    April 13, 2017
    This was such a good read; I ate it. The story of a young Argentinian girl, immigrating to the Deep South during the civil rights era, was captivating and added a new perspective on a familiar story. The perspective and context of this graphic novel made it relevant to discussions going on today. I found the artwork and different mediums and perspectives used to be "indie" and right but my alley. I am proud to have this book on my bookshelf and I hope many of my students enjoy stumbling upon it; This was such a good read; I ate it. The story of a young Argentinian girl, immigrating to the Deep South during the civil rights era, was captivating and added a new perspective on a familiar story. The perspective and context of this graphic novel made it relevant to discussions going on today. I found the artwork and different mediums and perspectives used to be "indie" and right but my alley. I am proud to have this book on my bookshelf and I hope many of my students enjoy stumbling upon it; Darkroom is a beautiful gem.
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  • Josh
    February 27, 2017
    Lila Quintero Weaver’s Darkroom is an impressive debut work. A memoir in the vein of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Howard Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby , Weaver’s mesmerizing tale is matched by her accomplished drawing and design skills. Darkroom is the story of a childhood, of a Latino immigrant family, of the struggle for justice in the Deep South. Weaver’s appealing pencil renderings perfectly capture the book’s themes of being caught in the middle, witness to (and participant in) one of the m Lila Quintero Weaver’s Darkroom is an impressive debut work. A memoir in the vein of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Howard Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby , Weaver’s mesmerizing tale is matched by her accomplished drawing and design skills. Darkroom is the story of a childhood, of a Latino immigrant family, of the struggle for justice in the Deep South. Weaver’s appealing pencil renderings perfectly capture the book’s themes of being caught in the middle, witness to (and participant in) one of the most turbulent periods in American history.
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  • Rosa
    September 28, 2012
    So I have a vague memory of requesting this after reading a review of it before I went on vacation. When I came back and saw it waiting for me I kind of had a huh? moment. I'm actually very glad that I requested it. It is the memoir of a hispanic woman growing up in a small town in Alabama during the Civil Rights movement. At the time as the author puts it, there were no slurs for them in Alabama yet. She talks a little about feeling like she never quite fit in but a majority of the book is abou So I have a vague memory of requesting this after reading a review of it before I went on vacation. When I came back and saw it waiting for me I kind of had a huh? moment. I'm actually very glad that I requested it. It is the memoir of a hispanic woman growing up in a small town in Alabama during the Civil Rights movement. At the time as the author puts it, there were no slurs for them in Alabama yet. She talks a little about feeling like she never quite fit in but a majority of the book is about what happened and how both she and her family dealt with it and sometimes to the towns reaction to the way they dealt with it. She also talks about how her family kept their ties with family in Argentina which is something that really interests me having just visited my family in Spain for the first time in 7 years. She talks about trying to keep family life and home life separate. Immigrant children and the children of immigrants will be able to relate in addition to anyone who has ever been a race or ethnicity that people just didn't know what to do with. The back drop of the civil rights movement just makes the whole story more interesting. She flat out talks about what she did notice growing up and what she didn't, which I think about a lot now. Things that were going on that I did and did not notice but probably should have when I was growing up.
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  • Sylver
    October 8, 2016
    This graphic novel is a quick read, but it's so deep and layered that I need some time to collect my thoughts. This is the first book that I read by another Argentine American, and her depiction of growing up away from the motherland, and the feelings of going back after many years really resonated with me. Lila's account of the events in Alabama in the 60s is chilling and moving. so applicable to these terrible times in which racism and violence are still in the news every day. I'll write a mor This graphic novel is a quick read, but it's so deep and layered that I need some time to collect my thoughts. This is the first book that I read by another Argentine American, and her depiction of growing up away from the motherland, and the feelings of going back after many years really resonated with me. Lila's account of the events in Alabama in the 60s is chilling and moving. so applicable to these terrible times in which racism and violence are still in the news every day. I'll write a more extensive review in the next few days.
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  • Araceli Esparza
    November 22, 2014
    This memoir is an awesome telling of the civil rights movement from the pov of a young Latina girl. The graphic novel format works on so many levels for youth and for adults. Marion AL never looked so real to me as it did through this book. Can wait to see more from this intelligent and yet sensitive author!
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  • virgodura
    February 4, 2017
    It's an interesting perspective but tbh.... She's not as progressive as she believes she is. She has some learning to do.
  • Lindsey
    September 14, 2012
    A fantastic graphic novel that explores what it meant to be an immigrant in Alabama during the time of civil rights' marches, segregation, and Klan activity. This also provides a glimpse into Argentina and its own racial divide. Beautiful illustrations. Loved this memoir for its window into American History and how it chronicles the immigrant experience. Loved it!
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  • Ryan
    September 16, 2015
    A deeply moving and personal story about racism and identify in the American South in the 50's. Well drawn and intimately told this book brings you straight to the point of view of the author as a young girl.
  • Michelle
    February 9, 2016
    I'm beginning to be convinced of the value of graphic novels as literature...this was beautifully done.
  • Sally
    September 24, 2012
    An unusual perspective on the Civil Rights movement by an Argentinan who moved to Alabama during grade school in 1961. I enjoyed reading it.
  • Brian Bess
    July 21, 2015
    Viewpoint from a rarely heard demographicI have rarely read any graphic novels or non-fiction and read this at the suggestion of a co-worker. The subject matter is intriguing as it is a true immigrant's story from a different location than one would expect from this ethnic group.Lila Quintero was a small child when she, along with her father, mother, two older sisters, younger brother, emigrated from Argentina to the United States, not only to the U.S. but to the small town of Marion, the county Viewpoint from a rarely heard demographicI have rarely read any graphic novels or non-fiction and read this at the suggestion of a co-worker. The subject matter is intriguing as it is a true immigrant's story from a different location than one would expect from this ethnic group.Lila Quintero was a small child when she, along with her father, mother, two older sisters, younger brother, emigrated from Argentina to the United States, not only to the U.S. but to the small town of Marion, the county seat of Perry County in Alabama. They arrived in 1961, just at the cusp of a sequence of years that were at the center of the civil rights movement. For each child the experience was a different journey. The oldest sister, Ginny, had been born in America from an earlier stay in the U.S. for the parents, spent formative years there and for her it seemed to be a homecoming. The second sister, Lissy, was born in the U.S. just before they moved back to Argentina and her only memories were of that country. Lila started school in Marion and knew immediately that she was different. Stares and ignorant questions ('Do you speak MEXICAN?') reached her frequently and she was often asked by a teacher to say something in Spanish. Her father had been a pastor and teacher and got jobs teaching Foreign Languages at the two local colleges in Marion. He was always restless and looking for something new to learn. He took up photography as a hobby and recorded huge segments of the life of the family.Her life at school where English was spoken and taught was radically different from her home life where both parents spoke Spanish constantly. She knew that if her father knew more details about what she was actually being taught he would voice his disapproval of the quality of the education she was getting. She heard racist remarks every day and understood the unspoken code of behavior to not seem to be sympathetic to Negroes. While she witnessed expressions of racism every day, she raided her older sister's book and record collections, reading books like 'Black Like Me' and listening to albums by Harry Belafonte and 'Joan Baez In Concert', including a singalong of "We Shall Overcome". For a few years she lived a double life, trying to accept the southern dietary choices (daily bacon) and lying to her teacher that her parents were too sick to attend the Christmas pageant for which Lila drew and painted most of the scenery.She learned the back story of her parents' earlier sojourn in Alabama, when her father was a pastor of a Birmingham church and was scolded for his equitable treatment of black people and was on the receiving end of a slightly less severe flavor of racism when he was expected to live in substandard housing based on the assumption that because he was a foreigner he shouldn't mind living in such conditions.By February of 1965 it was impossible not to be aware that civil rights activism was soon to be tested in an extreme way. Voter suppression of blacks by requiring more stringent testing than the standard tests offered to whites led to marches and protests for voter rights at the courthouse. On the evening of February 18 the state troopers unleashed billy clubs and beatings as protest conditions escalated to riot conditions in the eyes of the authorities. Richard Valeriani of NBC was seriously injured while he was reporting on the activity. Lila's father was there with his camera just as the situation was growing completely out of control. When he saw Valeriani hit in the head and bystanders being shoved he knew that he and his camera were at risk and retreated quickly. A state trooper shot a young black man named Jimmie Lee Jackson, who was trying to usher his mother and grandfather to safety inside a church. He died of his wounds a few days later. This incident sparked the Selma-to-Montgomery march of April after the state trooper was exonerated.Over the next few years, after the schools were forced to integrate and Lila was in junior high school, she grew bold enough to be friendly with her black classmates. She witnessed her younger brother being surrounded to a group of taunting boys. She stared at the boys and told her brother to come back to the classrooms. Later she learned that he was harassed because of his 'n—lovin' sister'. This memoir is a perfect example of a work that reaches maximum impact because it is graphic non-fiction. It is a picture book in which the words are supporting players to the pictures. And the pictures are all black ink drawings, very evocative of images from the time such as news articles, school pictures, cans of soup, scrapbooks, etc. She even includes portions of text from 'Know Alabama', the standard textbook used in the 60's to teach Alabama history, including its idyllic depiction of life on the plantations before the Civil War and the evil destruction enacted in the era of Reconstruction by northern Carpetbaggers and southern Scalawags. As with many graphic books, the illustrations could serve as storyboards for film adaptations. She actually uses the filmic device of rewinding film for flashbacks and alternative scenarios.This memoir is powerful largely because of the impact of the illustrations as well as the fact that it depicts an immigrant experience that has been told rarely, if ever. It's a quick reading experience that I would recommend, especially to those who feel disdainful about engaging in such a trivial, childish act as reading 'comic books'. There may not be as many of these reluctant readers as there used to be (hopefully another fading prejudice) but I know you're out there. Read this one. It's good for you.
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  • Ariel Caldwell
    November 1, 2016
    Gorgeous illustrations and fascinating story: this is one I plan to bring to the youth at one of the places I visit as a librarian. I think this would be interesting to bring up now, in light of the upcoming US election, and the continued civil unrest. It's also a story newcomer youth will relate to - learning to keep a home world and a school world separate, and learning to live between them.
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  • Katrina
    May 16, 2013
    As part of a resolution to read more books by and about Latinos, given the recent attention to the lack of diversity in classroom literature, I made a list of books that I'd like to read this year. Our theme for January and February at our Vamos a Leer Blog was looking at the Civil Rights Movement and Black History through a Latino lens--offering ways that these intersect and overlap. With this in mind, I decided to read Darkroom: a memoir in black & white written by Lila Quintero Weaver (25 As part of a resolution to read more books by and about Latinos, given the recent attention to the lack of diversity in classroom literature, I made a list of books that I'd like to read this year. Our theme for January and February at our Vamos a Leer Blog was looking at the Civil Rights Movement and Black History through a Latino lens--offering ways that these intersect and overlap. With this in mind, I decided to read Darkroom: a memoir in black & white written by Lila Quintero Weaver (254 pages, published in 2012 by University of Alabama Press). The premise of the book was quite interesting to me. The book jacket offers the following description: "Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White is an arresting and moving personal story about childhood, race, and identity in the American South, rendered in stunning illustrations by the author, Lila Quintero Weaver.Imagine my surprise when I got a copy of the book and realized it was a graphic novel! While a quick flip through the book revealed beautiful pictures, I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed--I had expected something quite different. My hesitancy about the book was short-lived though. As soon as I started it, I was hooked. While it was a quick read, I finished it in one sitting in less than an hour and a half, it was incredibly thought provoking. Weaver touches on a number of important themes: race in Latin America, racial segregation in the south, Jim Crow laws, identity development of a young bilingual Latina, and education in the U.S. Any of these could have been developed into its own book, and other reviews have been somewhat critical of a lack of cohesion because of the multiple themes. I don't necessarily see this as a negative, especially when thinking about non-adult readers. In fact, in some ways I think it is a positive. Her book offers enough to give students an idea of the multiple themes and issues relevant to that historical time period (and even some today), perhaps planting seeds to get students interested in pursuing a particular idea in further depth. One reviewer likened the book to a primer on the Civil Rights Movement, I'd disagree though. I think it has the potential to be so much more powerful than that. Written from Weaver's perspective as she grew up in Alabama, anyone from an older elementary school student to a high school student could relate to Weaver's experiences. I also think the graphic novel genre has the ability to appeal to and engage many students who might be turned off by the textbook or primer like readings we often offer them when we teach about the Civil Rights Movement or race relations in the United States.This is the second memoir I've read this month (Glorytown: One Boy's Struggle Under Castro was my first). What's interesting to me are the similar themes in both on what it meant to be an American. In both, to be an American is to be white. Look at the following pages from Weaver's book:Not only does she find her conceptions on what it meant to be an American challenged, but also her own identity--she struggled to accept who she was. Early on she was ashamed for anyone to know that her first language was Spanish. She worked hard to keep her school and home life separate--in part because she feared her parents would be critical of the education she was getting. At one point in the story Weaver writes about her father's views on education in the U.S, "According to him, my teachers let us play too much. They softballed tough subjects. They relied on gimmicks rather than books. And as far as he was concerned, there were far too many: class parties, costume pageants, salt and flour maps and other bogus projects. School in the United States was too easy!" (pg. 120-121). All important and interesting topics to be considered in our classroomsHer descriptions of the struggles and violence during the Civil Rights Movement are quite moving--lacking the blood and gore that might make them inappropriate to share with younger children--they still communicate the gravity of what happened. Her illustrations of the night Jimmy Lee Jackson was shot and his subsequent death that inspired the march from Selma to Montgomery are excellent.While I think the book would be an excellent addition to any school or classroom library, I'm not entirely sure the best way to implement it in a classroom. It could certainly be used as individual reading or research for a class project. It may work as a read-aloud, especially if using with older elementary school students, as long as everyone could easily see the illustrations, as they are an essential piece of the book.
    more
  • Vamos a Leer
    August 11, 2015
    As part of a resolution to read more books by and about Latinos, given the recent attention to the lack of diversity in classroom literature, I made a list of books that I'd like to read this year. Our theme for January and February at our Vamos a Leer Blog was looking at the Civil Rights Movement and Black History through a Latino lens--offering ways that these intersect and overlap. With this in mind, I decided to read Darkroom: a memoir in black & white written by Lila Quintero Weaver (25 As part of a resolution to read more books by and about Latinos, given the recent attention to the lack of diversity in classroom literature, I made a list of books that I'd like to read this year. Our theme for January and February at our Vamos a Leer Blog was looking at the Civil Rights Movement and Black History through a Latino lens--offering ways that these intersect and overlap. With this in mind, I decided to read Darkroom: a memoir in black & white written by Lila Quintero Weaver (254 pages, published in 2012 by University of Alabama Press). The premise of the book was quite interesting to me. The book jacket offers the following description: "Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White is an arresting and moving personal story about childhood, race, and identity in the American South, rendered in stunning illustrations by the author, Lila Quintero Weaver.Imagine my surprise when I got a copy of the book and realized it was a graphic novel! While a quick flip through the book revealed beautiful pictures, I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed--I had expected something quite different. My hesitancy about the book was short-lived though. As soon as I started it, I was hooked. While it was a quick read, I finished it in one sitting in less than an hour and a half, it was incredibly thought provoking. Weaver touches on a number of important themes: race in Latin America, racial segregation in the south, Jim Crow laws, identity development of a young bilingual Latina, and education in the U.S. Any of these could have been developed into its own book, and other reviews have been somewhat critical of a lack of cohesion because of the multiple themes. I don't necessarily see this as a negative, especially when thinking about non-adult readers. In fact, in some ways I think it is a positive. Her book offers enough to give students an idea of the multiple themes and issues relevant to that historical time period (and even some today), perhaps planting seeds to get students interested in pursuing a particular idea in further depth. One reviewer likened the book to a primer on the Civil Rights Movement, I'd disagree though. I think it has the potential to be so much more powerful than that. Written from Weaver's perspective as she grew up in Alabama, anyone from an older elementary school student to a high school student could relate to Weaver's experiences. I also think the graphic novel genre has the ability to appeal to and engage many students who might be turned off by the textbook or primer like readings we often offer them when we teach about the Civil Rights Movement or race relations in the United States.This is the second memoir I've read this month (Glorytown: One Boy's Struggle Under Castro was my first). What's interesting to me are the similar themes in both on what it meant to be an American. In both, to be an American is to be white. Look at the following pages from Weaver's book:Not only does she find her conceptions on what it meant to be an American challenged, but also her own identity--she struggled to accept who she was. Early on she was ashamed for anyone to know that her first language was Spanish. She worked hard to keep her school and home life separate--in part because she feared her parents would be critical of the education she was getting. At one point in the story Weaver writes about her father's views on education in the U.S, "According to him, my teachers let us play too much. They softballed tough subjects. They relied on gimmicks rather than books. And as far as he was concerned, there were far too many: class parties, costume pageants, salt and flour maps and other bogus projects. School in the United States was too easy!" (pg. 120-121). All important and interesting topics to be considered in our classroomsHer descriptions of the struggles and violence during the Civil Rights Movement are quite moving--lacking the blood and gore that might make them inappropriate to share with younger children--they still communicate the gravity of what happened. Her illustrations of the night Jimmy Lee Jackson was shot and his subsequent death that inspired the march from Selma to Montgomery are excellent.While I think the book would be an excellent addition to any school or classroom library, I'm not entirely sure the best way to implement it in a classroom. It could certainly be used as individual reading or research for a class project. It may work as a read-aloud, especially if using with older elementary school students, as long as everyone could easily see the illustrations, as they are an essential piece of the book.
    more
  • Laura
    February 27, 2017
    This would be good to recommend to art teachers who teach photography or drawing or English teachers who teach To Kill a Mockingbird. It does a good job of using black and white as a motif. It also does a good job of juxtaposing the author's own story with the racial tension in 1960's Alabama. It would be a good writing model for students looking for juxtapose their own stories against historical/political/societal backdrops. I find it inspiring how Weaver went back to school as a non-traditiona This would be good to recommend to art teachers who teach photography or drawing or English teachers who teach To Kill a Mockingbird. It does a good job of using black and white as a motif. It also does a good job of juxtaposing the author's own story with the racial tension in 1960's Alabama. It would be a good writing model for students looking for juxtapose their own stories against historical/political/societal backdrops. I find it inspiring how Weaver went back to school as a non-traditional student and pursued creating this book.
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  • Melissa Morton
    April 25, 2014
    Darkroom tells the story of Lila’s and her family’s immigration to the American South from Argentina, and their experience living in Alabama during one of the country’s most chilling times. Lila struggles with fitting in with her peers, and keeping her home life separate from her school life. The story is told from the perspective of someone neither black nor white, which makes the book unique. Most stories told about racism and inequality in the American South only consider the black or white p Darkroom tells the story of Lila’s and her family’s immigration to the American South from Argentina, and their experience living in Alabama during one of the country’s most chilling times. Lila struggles with fitting in with her peers, and keeping her home life separate from her school life. The story is told from the perspective of someone neither black nor white, which makes the book unique. Most stories told about racism and inequality in the American South only consider the black or white perspective, yet ignore outside experiences. Lila’s family treated all humans with respect and generosity despite the strong influence of Jim Crow laws. Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White provides a riveting first account full of experiences the author, Lila Quintero Weaver, had as a young child and bestows a new understanding of American history upon students. The book does a really great job at showing the reader what living in Alabama was like during heavy racism against African Americans, but from an outsider’s perspective. Using this book in a classroom would be beneficial because it provides students with Lila’s inside experience. Reading personal stories from eyewitnesses can increase student interest in their country’s history because there is so much value in hearing a person’s firsthand experiences. Lila and her family spoke Spanish, so the book’s illustrations reflected this through dialogue and speech bubbles. Many of the illustrations feature Spanish dialogue and is translated at the bottom of the page. Spanish captions can serve as a small learning opportunity for students. Some students will learn new words by seeing a Spanish phrase then translated into English, which is fantastic for forming well rounded, culturally aware students.
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  • Brenna
    April 29, 2014
    Darkroom tells the story of Lila’s and her family’s immigration to the American South from Argentina, and their experience living in Alabama during one of the country’s most chilling times. Lila struggles with fitting in with her peers, and keeping her home life separate from her school life. The story is told from the perspective of someone neither black nor white, which makes the book unique. Most stories told about racism and inequality in the American South only consider the black or white p Darkroom tells the story of Lila’s and her family’s immigration to the American South from Argentina, and their experience living in Alabama during one of the country’s most chilling times. Lila struggles with fitting in with her peers, and keeping her home life separate from her school life. The story is told from the perspective of someone neither black nor white, which makes the book unique. Most stories told about racism and inequality in the American South only consider the black or white perspective, yet ignore outside experiences. Lila’s family treated all humans with respect and generosity despite the strong influence of Jim Crow laws. Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White provides a riveting first account full of experiences the author, Lila Quintero Weaver, had as a young child and bestows a new understanding of American history upon students. The book does a really great job at showing the reader what living in Alabama was like during heavy racism against African Americans, but from an outsider’s perspective. Using this book in a classroom would be beneficial because it provides students with Lila’s inside experience. Reading personal stories from eyewitnesses can increase student interest in their country’s history because there is so much value in hearing a person’s firsthand experiences. Lila and her family spoke Spanish, so the book’s illustrations reflected this through dialogue and speech bubbles. Many of the illustrations feature Spanish dialogue and is translated at the bottom of the page. Spanish captions can serve as a small learning opportunity for students. Some students will learn new words by seeing a Spanish phrase then translated into English, which is fantastic for forming well rounded, culturally aware students.
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  • Barbara
    March 21, 2013
    Providing a unique glimpse into the civil rights struggle in one small Southern town, this graphic novel tells the story of one family's move from Argentina to Marion, a small town in Alabama. When the Quinteros emigrated from their homeland, they expected to return eventually. But over time, Alabama became their home despite some of its more unsavory aspects. The author's use of film, photography, and home movies throughout the book provides a ready metaphor for the perspectives provided by an Providing a unique glimpse into the civil rights struggle in one small Southern town, this graphic novel tells the story of one family's move from Argentina to Marion, a small town in Alabama. When the Quinteros emigrated from their homeland, they expected to return eventually. But over time, Alabama became their home despite some of its more unsavory aspects. The author's use of film, photography, and home movies throughout the book provides a ready metaphor for the perspectives provided by an insider or an outsider. The book, filled with lively pencil drawings, is partly reminiscence, partly a confession, and much meditation on home, courage, family, and the liberating power of an education with several dashes of self-esteem issues salted throughout the narrative. I came to care deeply about Lila and her family and the changes her family witnessed, mostly because the book is so honest and revealing, even describing her own naïve attitude toward race matters. I was a tiny bit disappointed in the ending, though, since I needed to know more about this woman's own involvement as an adult in the issues that mattered so much to her during her formative years. Still, this graphic novel is highly recommended, depicting as it does all sorts of small and large changes that occurred during the 1960s.
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  • Kenna Hall
    April 24, 2015
    This book i a great representation of multicultural books. The story is a biography of a young Argentinean girl who comes to America in the hight of the Civil Right's movement. The author does a great job at putting lots of details about the movement, but adding personal stories, which make it easier for the reader to connect to the story. One of the best aspects of this book is the layout of the story. It is a graphic novel meaning that the story is in pictures with captions to tell the story. This book i a great representation of multicultural books. The story is a biography of a young Argentinean girl who comes to America in the hight of the Civil Right's movement. The author does a great job at putting lots of details about the movement, but adding personal stories, which make it easier for the reader to connect to the story. One of the best aspects of this book is the layout of the story. It is a graphic novel meaning that the story is in pictures with captions to tell the story. This was an interesting technique, but I believe for this book made the story even more appealing. I think this is a great book to show kids about discrimination and also highlight some events from the Civil Right's movement. The author gives a completely different perspective of the civil rights movement in this book because the girl telling the story isn't black or white, therefore she can give another bias of the topic, which I think is very important for kids to see all point of views. This has been one of my favorite books I have read this semester because of the captivating plot, the relationships, and the authenticity.
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  • Aspasia
    March 11, 2016
    Psst! I have a confession to make.... I just read a graphic novel for the first time last night.....I read Archie and Veronica comics as a kid but I never did become a huge graphic novel fan- mainly because of the scantily clad women on most of the covers, but the premise behind Darkroom was intriguing: a graphic novel/memoir about growing up Hispanic in a tiny, rural Alabama town during the tumultuous Civil Rights era. Call me a nerd, but that sounded pretty riveting. Instead of the traditional Psst! I have a confession to make.... I just read a graphic novel for the first time last night.....I read Archie and Veronica comics as a kid but I never did become a huge graphic novel fan- mainly because of the scantily clad women on most of the covers, but the premise behind Darkroom was intriguing: a graphic novel/memoir about growing up Hispanic in a tiny, rural Alabama town during the tumultuous Civil Rights era. Call me a nerd, but that sounded pretty riveting. Instead of the traditional inked comic panels, Darkroom is full of original, detailed pencil drawings. Lila Quintero Weaver originally created this as a senior project for her undergrad degree back in 2007. As a non-traditional college student myself, this is inspiring to see her schoolwork become a published work. Ms. Quintero Weaver came to Augusta a few months ago as part of Augusta University's Latino Americans series but unfortunately, I couldn't attend her lecture due to work and school obligations, but you can watch part of her lecture here: https://vimeo.com/152378185 and you can read more about the Latino Americans series here: http://guides.augusta.edu/latino
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  • Allyson Smith
    November 19, 2013
    This book is about a young Latino girl who is growing up during the Civil Rights Movement in the south. The style of this book is unique in the way it gives the reader the information. On one page you may get the information in the text and on another it might be through illustrations. The book is also unique due to the way the story is told - you hear these events through the eyes of a young girl. It makes the serious topic of race and segregation easier to understand for young readers, which i This book is about a young Latino girl who is growing up during the Civil Rights Movement in the south. The style of this book is unique in the way it gives the reader the information. On one page you may get the information in the text and on another it might be through illustrations. The book is also unique due to the way the story is told - you hear these events through the eyes of a young girl. It makes the serious topic of race and segregation easier to understand for young readers, which is an important aspect of this book. I also think the format being a graphic novel also makes it easy to understand and more appealing to read. There are pictures and words so that the book is not so off putting. The book invites the reader to reflect, critically think, and response to the text in many ways. This book would be a great way to bring multicultural literature into the classroom. It is easy to read and is a nonfiction novel about the Civil Rights Movement. It is given through the eyes of a young girl so it makes it easy for students to connect and understand. I loved this book and I will get it for my future classroom.
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  • Mari
    September 26, 2015
    I'm so glad I picked this up. I love the perspective this graphic memoir showcases. It's a snapshot of the civil rights movement in Alabama, told from the perspective of a child and an immigrant. I really enjoyed that the story flipped back and forth from Quintero Weaver's own upbringing, her family and how she viewed being othered, to the larger historical events happening down the block from her house. There were a couple of chapter in the middle that seemed a bit too much like Quintero just t I'm so glad I picked this up. I love the perspective this graphic memoir showcases. It's a snapshot of the civil rights movement in Alabama, told from the perspective of a child and an immigrant. I really enjoyed that the story flipped back and forth from Quintero Weaver's own upbringing, her family and how she viewed being othered, to the larger historical events happening down the block from her house. There were a couple of chapter in the middle that seemed a bit too much like Quintero just telling us about events we could read in history books, but in the end I decided I didn't mind it overall. It made me curious about certain events which I went on to read more about and it also place her, her family, and her own experience into a larger context. I related SO MUCH to lots of Quintero Weaver said about her family, about trying to hide things from non-American parents, about hearing stories of the home country and how they become almost fairy-tale like. It was fantastic, in that regard, especially as I picked this up as part of my Hispanic Heritage Month reading.
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  • Bonnie
    November 17, 2012
    this is a memoir of an argentinian woman who moved to alabama with her family at the age of 5 in the early 60s. it's sort of a collection of vignettes rather than a narrative, but it mostly follows linearly and is largely about race relations during that time. as an argentinian, most of lila's classmates don't know what to make of her. her family watches as the civil rights movement causes tensions in marion, alabama and eventually desegregation comes to lila's school. her place as an outsider m this is a memoir of an argentinian woman who moved to alabama with her family at the age of 5 in the early 60s. it's sort of a collection of vignettes rather than a narrative, but it mostly follows linearly and is largely about race relations during that time. as an argentinian, most of lila's classmates don't know what to make of her. her family watches as the civil rights movement causes tensions in marion, alabama and eventually desegregation comes to lila's school. her place as an outsider made it easy for her to befriend the new black students at her school which causes all sorts of problems for her. though some of the chapters end a lttle abruptly and sometimes don't come together all that well, her analysis of race and its effects on people's actions is very astute and full of the sweet innocence of childhood.
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  • Shauna Walters
    April 28, 2015
    This chapter book is a great book discussing many important topics. The author does a great job at addressing discrimination, the Civil Rights movement, and standing up for what you believe in. This book follows the true story of a young girl named Lila and her life journey moving from Argentina to America in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. This was a interesting book because it discusses this movement from a bystander. However, also gives the approach from someone who still isn’t white, This chapter book is a great book discussing many important topics. The author does a great job at addressing discrimination, the Civil Rights movement, and standing up for what you believe in. This book follows the true story of a young girl named Lila and her life journey moving from Argentina to America in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. This was a interesting book because it discusses this movement from a bystander. However, also gives the approach from someone who still isn’t white, yet not African American. This was interesting because it was a memoir and was designed in a way that was engaging and easy for children to follow. I really liked this story because of the combination of photos and text that guided the reader throughout the story. I think this book is great for children to use because it is so engaging and really is an easy book to follow along with.
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  • Jacquelyn Hoogendyk
    April 23, 2014
    Darkroom tells the story of Lila’s and her family’s immigration to the American South from Argentina, and their experience living in Alabama during one of the country’s most chilling times. Lila struggles with fitting in with her peers, and keeping her home life separate from her school life. The story is told from the perspective of someone neither black nor white, which makes the book unique. Most stories told about racism and inequality in the American South only consider the black or white p Darkroom tells the story of Lila’s and her family’s immigration to the American South from Argentina, and their experience living in Alabama during one of the country’s most chilling times. Lila struggles with fitting in with her peers, and keeping her home life separate from her school life. The story is told from the perspective of someone neither black nor white, which makes the book unique. Most stories told about racism and inequality in the American South only consider the black or white perspective, yet ignore outside experiences. Lila’s family treated all humans with respect and generosity despite the strong influence of Jim Crow laws. Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White provides a riveting first account full of experiences the author, Lila Quintero Weaver, had as a young child and bestows a new understanding of American history upon students.
    more
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