By Lila Quintero Weaver
Darkroom is about a girl from Argentina whose family migrates to Marion, Alabama during the racial tensions of the 1960’s. In photography a darkroom is a room where film developing process turns film negatives into photographs. In this book the author uses a metaphorical darkroom of the mind, where negative memories are necessary to bringing our whole selves into sharp focus.
Lila’s adventure takes you from grade school in 1961 to her eventual return to Argentina in 2005. Along the way you read an amazing and well thought out story of the American South during one of the lowest points in America’s history. Lila shares her quick discovery of the inequality and division in 1960’s America, the unrealistic blonde-haired and blue-eyed feminine ideal, and the sad and sometimes violent events that took place during this time period. You will hear Lila’s personal feelings about her own struggles with cultural differences and what her parents viewed as a lack of solid educational practices in the U.S.
In addition to her personal story, you see what events took place as racial tensions came to a head. You will see people locked in jail cells after attempting to express their constitutional rights, State troopers beating those who tried to show support for them, the shooting and eventual death of a young man trying to save his mother and grandmother from violence, the rise of the Klu Klux Klan, the racial tensions in schools that were no longer racially segregated, and many other events. As this happens Americans are beginning to realize that they are people from all walks of life and a new age of acceptance and unity begins to dawn.
As Lila grows up, makes friends, and loses them during these tumultuous times, you can’t help but fall in love with her as an amazing person. She struggles to stay true to herself in a world that tries to fit everyone into the same mold.
Readers should be aware that there is some language indicative of the times and things that were going on. I recommend this story to you as a solid read about living through a difficult time in history and coming out for the better on the other side. From Lila you can learn about acceptance and love, and you can learn about our past as a nation. Even 50 years later we should remember not just the dates and names listed in our history books, but the lessons of unity and acceptance that we should have learned as well.
United we stand, divided we shall surely fall.