John Lewis’s “March” lives up to the hype

Anna Ciummo

The two books published so far in Congressman John Lewis’ “March” trilogy have been widely read across Washburn as a part of its ongoing iRead series.

“March” is a graphic novel and the autobiography of John Lewis in his early life as a participant in the civil rights movement. Book one focuses primarily on Lewis’ childhood and development of his values and beliefs, while book two is much more action-packed and other several different points of view than his own.

Because it’s a graphic novel, the story can’t simply be read. Seeing the illustrations that go along with the story makes the entire reading experience completely different. Every scene is enhanced through the masterful artwork of Nate Powell. The novel’s images and text are shown in black and white, which creates effective imagery that coincides with the message that Lewis wanted to convey: Different races can come together as a single people for what they believe in.

Book one is mostly concerned with introducing the reader to John Lewis and his perspective on the heated social issues back in the 1950s and 1960s. He described the ambitions he had as a child to become a preacher and his methods of obtaining an education.

The story continues on into Lewis’ adult life as he becomes acquainted with Martin Luther King, Jr. and others working for change. Lewis recorded his first experiences participating in sit-ins, a form of nonviolent protest. The scenes in which Lewis and his fellow protesters were attacked were especially moving because of the action-packed, sometimes gruesome illustrations.

Although book two continues its focus mostly on the life of Lewis, sit-ins and protests, the story branches out. Book two provides an even more disturbing picture into the intolerance shown toward the people fighting for their freedom. Overall, book two was much more bloody and action-packed than the first book.

The “March” series is wonderful for young and old readers alike, although it does contain more mature content at times. Whether the book is used to study the time period or read just for fun, anyone can find something to appreciate in the story. It’s no wonder that both of Lewis’ books are national bestsellers.

Rating: 4/5 stars