Kent State by Deborah Wiles

Historical Fiction, Novel in Verse Social Justice themes Vietnam War 132 p.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I thought the format and writing style of this book was very interesting; it is a novel in verse, and Wiles moves the conversation very quickly between the students, the townies, the National Guard, and the protesters. It is a quick read, just 132 p. The font style changes between the 4 groups making it easier to tell which group is speaking. I don’t have many books about this topic so it makes a great addition to the library. Added Note: I think the cover is interesting: the daisy as it is May and spring, and then the gun that destroys the beauty and peace of the day.

Allison, Bill, Sandy, and Jeffrey are the four students killed at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard. Their stories become more personal as Wiles brings them to life by relating what they liked to do, who their friends are, and what their dreams and aspirations are. She shows how chaotic and confusing those days were: the bewilderment of the town folks, how young the National Guard was who were trained to follow orders, students protesting the war, while other students were just trying to get to class but were shot or injured along the way. I think the book would make a great oral interp, drama, or reader’s theater. Also, great for Lit and History classes–what connections can be made to today?

Published by


District Media Specialist for Madison Central School District

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