Let the Circle be Unbroken is one of Mildred Taylor’s most famous books for young readers, and a cherished work of African American fiction. It is a sequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, which was published in 1976.
Let the Circle was published in 1981 and, like her other work, is set during the Great Depression. Taylor has said that she wants to depict how the events of the 1930s paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s. In an interview with the American Library Association, Taylor said, “In addition to family, I write about history because I was very affected by it as a child. When I was in school, many people did not know about the true history of black people in America. Both my mother’s and father’s families owned land. They’d had land since the 1800s. I wanted to tell the truth about what life was like before the civil rights movement.”
Reviews of Let the Circle were very positive. The New York Times wrote, "Miss Taylor conveys the textures of life among black as well as white and writes not with rancor or bitterness over indignities but with pride, strength, and respect for humanity,” while the Horn Book raved, “The fear, cruelty, and the bewildering injustice of a hopelessly racist society are transcended by a family's strength, self-respect, and determination. The characters, both young and old, in all their variety and individuality come alive with penetrating humanness, while the effect of the storytelling is intensified by a lean, understated style and made more poignant by touches of lyrical sensitivity.”
The novel received the Coretta Scott King Award in 1982, and was chosen for an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Book in the Field of Social Studies.