Loving vs Virginia: a love story

Loving vs Virginia book review

What is this about?: This is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love and fought to change the law against interracial marriages in the US in the 1950s.

What else is this about?: While, Mildred and Richard brought about immense change, theirs is still simply a love story.

Should you read: Yes. Don’t let a story in blank verse turn you off.

Stars: 4/5

Blurb: Written in blank verse, the story of Mildred Loving, an African American girl, and Richard Loving, a Caucasian boy, who challenge the Virginia law forbidding interracial marriages in the 1950s.

You’ve probably seen the trailer for Loving, a new movie out soon about Richard and Mildred Loving, and their fight to be able to live together and be recognised as husband and wife in Virginia. This is a book, aimed at YA readers and written in blank verse.

Blank verse. Is about the most intimidating thing I can think of when it comes to reading a book. Quite possibly because of far too many English lessons delving into poetry and the hidden meanings behind far too many old, dead poets. Yes, I might be a wee bit biased here.

But, I decided to risk it and I am so glad I did. Blank verse is verse without rhyme, making this for a powerful, beautiful read.

Patricia Hruby Powell chronicles Mildred and Richard’s first meeting, their falling in love and marriage, before following this couple to their fight for their marriage to be recognised in Virginia. Powell makes a complicated story much simpler for her audience, with verse that is tender and makes your heart hurt for what they went through. And she does not shy away from the toll it took on Mildred and Richard. The accompanying art by Shadra Strickland is simple but anything more would not fit Powell’s text.

While Richard and Mildred brought about so much change, in the end, this is a love story. And one everyone should know.

Have you ever read a book in blank verse? What was your experience? And will Loving vs Virginia be your next title?

8 Comments

  • Lekeisha says:

    I requested this but didn’t get approved. It’s definitely one that I’m buying. I love historical accounts like this even though the hate and stuff pisses me off. The fact that it’s written in blank verse just makes me want it more. Great review!

    • Verushka says:

      This was just beautiful, Lekeisha. I didn’t know what to expect from a book in verse, but I didn’t expect such elegance in it. It’s such a beautiful complicated story and she made it accessible to this age group through verse no less.

  • Suzanne says:

    This sounds fascinating, especially since I live in Virginia. The blank verse sounds a little intimidating, but I’m definitely interested in giving it a shot. Great review!

    • Verushka says:

      I thought it would be intimidating too — and I have to admit, I requested it on Netgalley before I realised it was blank verse. But. BUT. Suzanne, it’s so good. It’s still a story and still an easy, elegant read. I hope you like it!

  • Maria Behar says:

    This sounds SO WONDERFUL, Verushka! I’m very curious as to how this story will come across in blank verse. What an unusual way to tell a story! But I’m willing to gamble on it, because I think that prejudice is a horrible thing. Unfortunately, it’s still with us, although in a more subtle way. It’s SO easy for a white landlord to simply tell a member of a minority group that “the apartment’s already been rented”, when it really hasn’t. Or for a white interviewer to tell a job applicant that “someone else has already been hired”, when the job is still very much open.

    Reading books such as this one serves to keep the awareness of the evils of bigotry in mind. While no state in the U.S. (or country in the world, that I know of) currently has such interracial marriage laws, it’s all too easy to forget what was once commonplace, and even justified. We need to REMEMBER.

    Thanks for sharing this book, and for your great review!! 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      You’re right Maria, these are the things that people need to remember. These days it feels like bigotry is around us in different ways, so we need the reminders from books like these. And the best thing about this, is how accessible it makes a tough, historical story for young readers. It’s teaching children this story young, which more than a few adults I know could’ve benefited from.

  • Catherine says:

    I saw the trailer for the film Loving and look forward to seeing it, so when I saw this post I had to look into the book more. It’s now on the want to read list. 😀

    I studied classics at university, and if it’s not plays, it’s poetry: shorter works and of course the epic poems of Homer and later Virgil. I’ve not read much YA that is in blank verse (thinking about it, I’m sure for me it’s limited to Francesca Lia Block’s work) but this looks really good.

    • Verushka says:

      It absolutely is good, Catherine. It’s simpler than I expected it to be, but thoroughly elegant in its imagery. I was really impressed with it overall.

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