My English class got an assignment to write an essay about the moment when our lives changed forever. Some of my friends had real trouble coming up with something. Johnny Murphy said his life hadn’t changed a bit in all his fourteen years. Sherry Haney told him he was too young to even notice any changes, but since her fifteenth birthday last month she was able to look back at so many changes it was going to be tough for her to pick out just one for her essay. As for me, it was pretty easy to remember the one moment my life changed forever. It is stored in my mind like a movie reel I can take out, wind up, and play whenever I want or need to. That moment came when I first saw Sarah Finn—or rather the vision I later knew was Sarah Finn. I was eleven. It was the afternoon of April 29, 1963. The Oklahoma summer was beginning to sneak across days the calendar still thought were caught up in spring.
the opening words of Sarah Finn, a middle reader novel by PortiaLily Taylor
Sarah Finn is the story of Cathryn Henderson who knows the challenges of being a biracial girl in 1963 Oklahoma. She faces the scorn of school bullies and the rejection of a grandfather. But, Cathryn knows her struggles don’t compare to those faced by people like Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, and so many others who are part of the civil rights protest and marches she sees on television.
Cathryn finds refuge at home and in church. But, when a tornado destroys both, she wonders where she will find the “peace in her heart” promised in the hymn sung during Dr. King’s marches. Cathryn and her family must turn to a mysterious, elderly woman named Sarah Finn for help. With that meeting comes the moment the girl’s life changes forever.
But, who is Sarah Finn? How does Cathryn’s life change? Does “peace” finally find its way into Cathryn’s heart? The novel Sarah Finn will answer these questions…and so much more.