Jacquelin Thomas. Shades of Gray. New York: Steeple Hill Books, 2006.

Sela and Rodney Barnes married when they were quite young, and as this novel opens they are celebrating their twentieth wedding anniversary.  They have built a good life together–their two oldest children are in college at North Carolina State University, and Rodney owns a successful trucking business.  But Rodney’s parents have never accepted Sela.  They believe that Rodney’s marriage to Sela and the quick birth of their oldest daughter kept Rodney from finishing college and becoming to white collar professional that they expected him to be.  Although it is unsaid, Sela can sense that they disapprove of her because she is African American and Mr. and Mrs. Barnes are white.

Sela’s relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Barnes is one of the few points of tension between her and Rodney.  Religion is the other one.  Rodney has been born again as a Christian; he and the children attend church each week and he looks to the Bible for guidance in his daily life.  Shortly after the celebration of  their twentieth wedding anniversary, Rodney is diagnosed with heart disease.  After a heart transplant fails to save Rodney, Sela is left to raise the children and run the business alone.  Reading Rodney’s diary, and an intervention by her two oldest children, help Sela to see the value of religion and to make peace with her in-laws. There will be challenges ahead, but Sela and her family–all of them–will go down the road together.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Thomas, Jacquelin, Wake

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