(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Hush is narrated by Toswiah Green, a thirteen-year-old girl who was recently living happily in Denver, Colorado, with her father, mother, and sister, Cameron. When her police officer father witnessed an unjust shooting, the Green family entered the federal witness protection program.

Officer Jonathan Green was on patrol with his two partners when they encountered an African American youth. The other officers, both white men, fired at the boy while he was standing still with his hands raised in surrender. After the boy died, members of the police department instructed Officer Green to lie about what he had seen and testify that the other officers were right to open fire. He faced significant pressure, including nasty phone calls and death threats. One night, someone drove by and fired three bullets into his house. Officer Green knew it was wrong to change his story, and he refused to lie about what he had seen, even though his choice put his family at risk.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) placed the Green family in protective custody. Agents escorted them from their home in the middle of the night, placed them in a windowless van, and drove them to a safe house. For three months, they lived in an undisclosed location, and their whereabouts were unknown even to them. After the trial ended, the Greens moved to a new city and assumed new identities. Toswiah Green became Evie Thomas, and her older sister Cameron became Anna....

(The entire section is 540 words.)


(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Bishop, Rudine Simms. Free Within Ourselves: The Development of African American Children’s Literature. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007. History and analysis of the evolution of African American writing for children and young adults; begins with the oral culture of slave narratives and moves through the twentieth century to discuss contemporary African American writers for young audiences, including Jacqueline Woodson.

Earley, Pete, and Gerald Shur. WITSEC: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program. New York: Bantam, 2003. Discusses the witness protection program, including firsthand accounts of the psychological effects of identity change on families who enter the program.

Woodson, Jacqueline. “Jacqueline Woodson: This Year’s Edwards Award-Winner Takes on Life’s Toughest Challenges—Poverty, Prejudice, Love and Loss.” Interview by Deborah Taylor. School Library Journal, June 1, 2006. Article and interview featuring Jacqueline Woodson upon her receipt of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring lifetime achievement in writing literature for young adults.