I was excited when TLC Book Tours asked me to review this book, until I remembered I don't know how to write a book review, so I am going to pretend I am telling a friend about a good book. This is not the type of book I would pick up because I tend to stay away from racial issues. Not because I'm not interested, but I find these stories frustrating. This one is different - poetic, written from the view of a young girl caught in the middle of a violent southern summer in 1963.
Florence begins her story with, "I need you to understand how ordinary it all was." Her mother was the town's "cake lady," who earned a living baking cakes for neighbors. Her father, who can't seem to hold a job, finds his place selling insurance in the town. During the day Florence is cared for by Zenie, an African American woman who also works for Florence's grandmother. When Zenie's niece Eva arrives in town, Florence learns how race divides her town.
I don't want to ruin the story for you and say more, but it's powerful and sad. I couldn't put it down. A chapter in the book is written from the perspective of Eva, which I thought gave her a voice and was a nice touch by the author. I'm going to use a passage from the book to describe it, "But some stories are whiskery old men. You walk past them fast, but they snatch at you with their fingers of bone and make you stay. The hold you up to their faces and scratch you."
Minrose Gwin was interviewed by Book Club Girl on Blog Talk Radio on May 17th; link. If you read this book, let me know - I would love to discuss it with you. Thank you Trish for bringing this book into my life.