This post contains affiliate links. I have read several different books for Bookworm’s unit study on Detroit. Let me tell you, it’s not easy to find books about Detroit that are appropriate for a 13-year old. However, I was happily surprised by Rhythm Ride by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
About Rhythm Ride by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Rhythm Ride is told by the “groove” and initially gives the story of Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown. Soon, the groove delves into all of the different groups and songs that came out of Motown.
Motown was so much more than just fabulous singers. Gordy decided to send his singers on tour, which was not something that was usually done by a music label. In addition, he hired people to teach his singers how to look polished and how to dance and sing at the same time.
This book offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Motown. However, it also delves into the culture at the time, including touching on Emmett Till’s torture and murder, the death of the four little girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church, and the 1967 Detroit riots. Later in the book, it looks briefly at the Vietnam War and how that affected many of the Motown singers, especially Marvin Gaye.
My Thoughts on the Book
Many of the more famous songs I knew from my childhood, but I didn’t appreciate their meaning. Sure, I heard “What’s Going On,” but I was young then, and I didn’t listen to the lyrics. Reading in this book that Marvin Gaye wrote the song after staying up all night with his traumatized brother who had just returned from the Vietnam War gives me a whole new level of understanding. In addition, this book touched on many more songs I had not heard of or singers I am not familiar with. Considering that Gordy was building Motown at a time when segregation was plaguing the nation, I find it amazing how successful he was.
This book is perfect for middle school students on up, and it’s written in an easy-to-read style that draws readers in.
I give Rhythm Ride by Andrea Davis Pinkney 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.