Susan Marcus Bends the Rules

Written by Jane Cutler
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

Susan Marcus Bends the Rules is set during WWII in Clayton, Missouri. Missouri is quite a change for Susan Marcus, who grew up in New York City. However, due to the dangers of living in such a place in the early days of the war, Susan and her mother move inland, near Susan’s aunt.

Living in Missouri is quite different from living in New York, where Susan saw all kinds of people—Chinese, Indian, African American, Puerto Rican—all living together in freedom. However, when she finds herself in Missouri, she runs into something she hasn’t experienced before—the Jim Crow laws, used to keep the races separate. When she meets Loretta, a girl who lives in her apartment building, she decides to challenge the ridiculous laws of the land. She and Loretta become friends and, along with two other new friends, this quixotic quartet devises a plan to bend the rules.

The characters are likable, and the courage and ingenuity Susan shows when she decides to protest against the unfairness of the Jim Crow laws are bound to inspire young readers to stand up for what they know is right. Not only that, the book illustrates ways to cope with life changes, such as moving to a new place. In all, an enjoyable read.