Tag Archives: Class struggle

Diane Chamberlain. Necessary Lies. New York: St. Martin’s, 2013.

Necessary LiesJane Forrester’s (née Mackie) husband, Robert, can’t understand why his new wife wants to work. Neither can her mother nor any of the stay-at-home wives in her imposed social circle. When Jane and Robert first met, her quirks beguiled him. She wasn’t cut from the same cloth of the prototypical 1960s woman. Now that they’re official newlyweds, Robert wishes that Jane would join the Raleigh Junior League and derive satisfaction in being a physician’s wife, as well as the future mother of his unborn children. But Jane wants a chance at a brief career before children. She is sensitive and idealistic and interested in helping others through work. She gets hired as a social worker in the Department of Public Welfare shortly before their wedding. Robert tolerates Jane’s job, however he makes his desire for children and his short timetable known. With an M.D., Robert has ascended the socio-economic ladder and he is concerned acutely with fitting into his more well-heeled surroundings.

Robert is not thrilled when he learns that Jane will conduct field work alone in the fictional rural Grace County. Field work entails visiting the families of the cases that the social worker manages to monitor their needs and progress. The social worker executes any actions or files any paperwork considered necessary for the greater good. Jane’s two first cases are the Hart and Jordan families who live and work on Davidson Gardiner’s farm. She neglects her boss’s advice and becomes invested emotionally in the Hart family, leading her to a series of choices that could violate the procedures of the Department of Public Welfare and negate the defined purpose of her position. But Jane feels unable to accept the rules as they’ve been handed to her. She is disturbed by how the department enforces its own code of morality and communicates its actions deceptively to the parties involved.

According Charlotte Werkmen, Jane’s boss and former social worker in charge of the case, fifteen year-old Ivy Hart is the last chance for the Hart family. Ivy’s older sister, Mary Ella has already given birth to a baby named William. Mary Ella is beautiful and slow, which Charlotte regards as a dangerous combination. Ivy and Mary Ella’s father is dead and mother is an institutionalized schizophrenic. They live in a farmhouse with their diabetic grandmother, Nonnie. Ivy worries about her family’s security in the farmhouse. Nonnie is increasingly unable to work and she has little regard for her health, indulging frequently in sugar. Because Nonnie is petulant and ornery and Mary Ella is unreliable and often missing, Ivy is the nucleus forced to mother and to hold the family together. By government standards, Ivy qualifies at a functioning level, but barely. She has an IQ of 80 and Petit Mal epilepsy. Charlotte warns Jane to watch Ivy carefully — if Ivy winds up pregnant, all her opportunities will evaporate.

Veteran novelist Diane Chamberlain deals with the sexism and racism prevalent during the 1960s and provides a historical basis to Necessary Lies. She alternates the story between Ivy and Jane’s points-of-view primarily. The novel explores the issue of people’s authority over their bodies. Chamberlain illustrates this point from both perspectives: a doctor refusing to prescribe Jane birth control without her husband’s permission to a eugenics program masked to its recipients as benevolent healthcare. The themes of control and consent reappear over the course of the novel, where institutions and people are given the power to make personal judgements for others. Additionally, the book questions the idea of people who are classified as “incapable” or “unfit” by official sanctioning. Who, if anyone, should have the agency to make decisions for those deemed “incapable” or “unfit”? Chamberlain offers an absorbing read on a fictionalized portrayal of a regrettable segment of North Carolina’s history.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Chamberlain, Diane, Historical, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Wake

M. S. Cole. Southern Conflict. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2011.

southernnMany of us have learned about the textile industry in North Carolina from history books or family stories.  Mill village housing, segregation of the workforce, stretch-outs, time-and-motion studies, company stores, strikes, blacklisting–all of these are known to us as pieces of history. Southern Conflict brings that history to life through the story of the Turner family.

One small mill house is home to the Turners– two children and five adults.  Four of the adults work in the Banner Cotton Mill that dominates the little village of Pine Valley.  Emma Lee, who presides over the household, used to work in the mill too, but she now stays home to raise two children who have been abandoned by their mother, one of Emma Lee’s cousins. Emma Lee thinks she knows mill work, but it is Aunt Elle, who at 72 still works in the mill, who has seen it all.  But maybe not.  It’s the 1950s, and some winds of change are beginning to blow. When the owner tightens the screws at Banner Cotton Mill, the workers organize, even to the point of reaching across the racial divide. Owner Isaac Banner pushes back, and there is violence and retribution.

Each member of the Turner family member is touched by what happens. How they think about the mill and their lives, and the actions they take, may prompt readers to have fresh ideas about North Carolina’s industrial and social past.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Cole, M. S., Historical, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Jen Calonita. The Grass is Always Greener. New York: Poppy, 2013.

thegrassisalwaysgreenerThe conclusion to Jen Calonita’s Belles series finds half-sisters Mirabelle and Isabelle Monroe each facing her own crossroads. The Monroe family is used to an easy life, but that changed when Isabelle “Izzie” Scott (in reality Monroe) arrived. Hailing from the nearby struggling community of Harborside, the daughter State Senator and family patriarch Bill Monroe never knew existed has certainly made life interesting in the affluent town of Emerald Cove. No one has felt the changes more than Izzie’s half-sister Mirabelle.

Originally a quiet conformist, Mirabelle has started to march to the beat of her own drum. She’s pursuing her own interests in painting, as well as a quirky, artistic boy named Kellen. Izzie has changed her life,  but nothing is perfect. Kellen is moving away, and Mirabelle’s novice artwork faces harsh criticism from a teacher. Will she stay true to her newfound path?

Although used to blazing her own trail, Izzie has trials to face as well. Shortly following the death of her beloved grandmother, an aunt Izzie never knew about arrives in town. Zoe Scott had a terrible falling out with her sister, Izzie’s mom, before Izzie was ever born. Now Zoe wants to make amends and take her niece away to live in California. Izzie isn’t sure if she wants her aunt in her life, much less if she wants to leave the Old North State. Additionally, Savannah Ingram, the alpha girl of Emerald Preparatory, looks ready to make Izzie pay for disrupting the status quo. Forced to work with the snobby queen bee on a project, Izzie is sure she’ll be miserable. But is Savannah really as bad as she thought? Torn between the lessons of her meager upbringing and the challenges of her new, shinier life, Izzie must decide what her future will hold.

Both girls are about to turn sweet sixteen, and at this rite of passage they must decide who they will be. But since Isabelle and Mirabelle Monroe first accepted one another as sisters, one thing is certain– whatever they face, they’ll face it together.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Calonita, Jen, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Jen Calonita. Winter White. New York: Poppy, 2012.

Isabelle “Izzie” Scott is still adjusting to the revelation that her uncle, North Carolina State Senator Bill Monroe, is in fact her father. The Monroe family may appear polished and smiling for the media sharks during the Senator’s re-election campaign, but away from the cameras, they’re falling apart. Mirabelle, who at fifteen is only a few months younger than Izzie, is still not willing to forgive her father, and neither is Izzie. Their younger and older brothers are fine, but the girls refuse to have anything to do with Senator Monroe beyond their filial duty to uphold his public image.

Meanwhile, mean girl Savannah Ingram, the queen bee of Emerald Prep, is on the warpath. Mirabelle, who used to be one of the most popular girls at Emerald Cove’s elite private school and Savannah’s best friend, is officially a persona non grata. Not only did she finally accept her strange and awkward half-sister as both a member of her family and a friend, but she didn’t help Savannah sabotage Isabelle’s burgeoning relationship with Savannah’s handsome ex-boyfriend, Brayden. Worst of all, one of the most important events in Mirabelle’s life is fast approaching: cotillion, where every young girl in Emerald Cove who is anybody comes out as an official debutante. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, Izzie is also participating. Will the girls survive the demanding preparations designed to turn them into proper Southern belles? As the preparations for the debutante ball become more difficult, boy problems loom, and more bad press appears, so the girls must once again work together to save their family and their own happiness.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Calonita, Jen, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Marcia Gruver. Raider’s Heart. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, 2011.

Back in the early 1850s, Silas McRae was a no-good thief and a charlatan. He had to be: despite having the surname name “McRae” he and his family, like other Lumbee residents of Robeson County, North Carolina, were looked down on and scorned by most North Carolinians. Now it’s 1871, and as an older man with a family, Silas regrets his thieving ways. But his greatest regret is the loss of a beautiful golden lamp, stolen from a rich Fayetteville home one fateful night in 1852. Silas has told the tale repeatedly to his two boys, Hooper and Duncan: how beautiful the lamp was, and how Silas was sure that its strange shape held a genie that would answer all of his problems. When Hooper and Duncan hear from a cousin that the lamp might have found its way to the family of a wealthy local planter, how can they resist stopping by to acquire it?

It seems like a simple job of thievery, but the boys don’t count on the feisty Dawsey Wilkes, the (supposedly) gently raised daughter of Colonel Gerrard Wilkes. Dawsey apprehends the criminals in the act of stealing her father’s precious lamp, but the situation goes terribly awry for all parties involved, and somehow the McRaes end up kidnapping Dawsey. But the trouble is just beginning. When the McRaes arrive home in Scuffletown with Dawsey, they discover that she is the spitting image of their little sister Ellie, who is exactly the same age. Are the two girls twins? And could the beautiful, haughty Dawsey ever fall for the likes of Hooper McRae? What unfolds is a tale of danger, unexpected family, and romance. This first novel in Gruver’s Backwoods Brides series charts a stormy course through the racially charged history of Reconstruction era Robeson County.

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Gruver, Marcia, Historical, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Robeson, Romance/Relationship

Suzanne Adair. Camp Follower. [United States: CreateSpace], 2008.

At age seventeen in 1768, lowborn Helen Grey was sold in marriage to an old, corpulent merchant bound for the Americas. Her saving grace was her disgusting husband’s educated assistant, Jonathan Quill, who had to play Pygmalion to her Galatea in order to make Helen presentable for the aristocracy in the colonies. Now, twelve years later and nine years widowed, Helen is fighting to survive in wartime Wilmington, North Carolina. After her husband’s demise in a duel, his monetary estate mysteriously vanished, leaving Helen near penniless. She now ekes out a meager existence taking in embroidery work for wealthy ladies and writing a small society column in a Loyalist magazine.

Then Helen’s editor comes to her with a proposition: if she poses as the sister of a British officer in His Majesty’s Seventeenth Light Dragoons, Helen could get close to Britain’s hero of the hour, Colonel Banastre Tarleton, and write a hard-to-acquire feature. Colonel Tarleton doesn’t approve of journalists, so Helen’s mission would be completely covert. But there is more beneath the surface of this apparently simple mission than meets the eye, and soon Helen is up to her neck in danger, intrigue, colonial spy rings, and the attentions of three separate men, one of whom is supposed to be posing as her brother. Traveling through a wild back country overrun with rebels, it’s possible that Helen’s greatest danger lies in the men supposedly protecting her best interests. Set in both North and South Carolina and concluding with the tactically decisive Battle of Cowpens, this romantic historical thriller combines an exciting time in the history of the United States with lots of imagination.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Adair, Suzanne, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Jen Calonita. Belles. New York: Poppy, 2012.

Fifteen-year-old Isabelle “Izzie” Scott loves her life in Harborside, North Carolina: working as a life guard at the beach, hanging with her friend Kylie at the local ice cream shop, and swimming laps at the pool in her beloved community center. Orphaned at ten when her single mother was killed in a car crash, Izzie lives with her aging grandmother, and it’s a daily battle to convince her concerned social worker that Grams is a good enough guardian.

Grams is slowly losing her grip on reality, and one day Izzie arrives home to find that a decision has been made without her: Grams is moving to an assisted living facility, and Izzie is sure she’s destined for foster care. But Grams has been hiding a secret from her. Unbeknownst to Izzie, she has a long-lost uncle: a wealthy state senator who lives with his wife and children in nearby Emerald Cove. Her uncle and aunt have agreed to take Izzie and raise her with their children, offering her all the best love and care and a first-rate education at the prestigious Emerald Prep.

Harborside and Emerald Cove are only a few miles apart on the scenic North Carolina coast, but they might as well be on separate planets. Emerald Cove is home to some of the wealthiest families in the state, sporting boutique shops, sprawling mansions, and a refined country club, while Harborside is barely above a slum with its low-income housing, gang violence, and seedy boardwalk. Izzie’s aunt and uncle Monroe are welcoming, but her cousin Mirabelle, nearly the same age, is one of the most popular girls in school, and Izzie definitely doesn’t fit in her with her crowd. Worst of all, the gorgeous Savannah Ingram (Mirabelle’s best friend and the queen bee of Emerald Prep) takes a particular dislike to Izzie, and stirs up plenty of trouble for the new girl. Soon Izzie isn’t sure if she’s fighting to fit in or fighting to get out, but the true drama and scandal haven’t even begun.

Reminiscent of Gossip Girl with a southern twist, Belles is the beginning of a fantastic new series about family, community, and fashion for young adults.

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Calonita, Jen, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Alan Thompson. A Hollow Cup. Livermore, CA: Wingspan Press, 2011.

Lilah Freedman, a young woman involved in the civil rights movements in the small North Carolina town of New Hope in 1966, was brutally murdered one night after a protest at the local university. The white man originally accused of her murder was never convicted and a great deal of mystery and racial tension has surrounded this cold case ever since. Now, in 1991, a State attorney thinks he has enough evidence for a surprising new indictment, throwing the small town into an uproar once again. Pete Johnson and Luke Stanley, two attorneys sharing a past with each other, Lilah Freedman, and New Hope, return seeking closure and redemption in their own lives. Pete, having watched an unfairly convicted client of his go to his death, is disillusioned with the justice system. Luke Stanley, having spent his life fighting for racial integration in Chicago, seeks to bring that battle to his home town.

A complex novel that often switches perspective to give the reader a chance at glimpsing the world through a variety of eyes and opinions, A Hollow Cup travels back and forth in time between the youth of these main characters in the 1960s and their actions in the present day of 1991, illustrating the racial division and tension of each time. Alan Thompson’s readers will enjoy the geographical treasure hunt as the author describes his characters’ forays throughout the fictional town of New Hope, which bears a great many similarities to Chapel Hill.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Historical, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Orange, Piedmont, Thompson, Alan

Nicholas Sparks. The Best of Me. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011.

Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole both live in Oriental, North Carolina, but they might as well be from different planets. Amanda is a daughter of one of the oldest, most respected families in the town, while Dawson’s kin make up the resident drunks, hoodlums, and moonshiners. But Dawson is different, and when he and Amanda bond over a high school chemistry assignment, their friendship soon turns to true love. When you’re seventeen and in love, life is difficult – Amanda’s parents are outraged at their daughter’s choice of boyfriend, and finally refuse to pay for college if she continues to date him. Divided, the two move far away from one another. Hardened by an unfair prison sentence and family violence that he barely escapes, Dawson finally finds refuge in New Orleans, but Amanda is always in his heart.

Years later, the death of a mutual friend reunites them in Oriental. In fulfilling their deceased friend’s final wishes, they begin to wonder if they might find happiness in life after all…but Amanda is married, and Dawson’s family has a long memory for revenge. With a compelling cast of small-town characters, a gripping plot, and just a touch of the supernatural, longtime fans of Nicholas Sparks will not be disappointed in his latest offering.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Pamlico, Romance/Relationship, Sparks, Nicholas

John Hart. Iron House. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2011.

Michael knows how to kill, possibly better than anyone else alive. He dispatches his victims without emotion or drama, a virtue that makes him nearly invisible in New York City. He is the Old Man’s silent, deadly shadow. But before New York and the Old Man, there was Iron House.

A lifetime ago, he was a small but strong boy who protected his weaker, younger brother Julian at the Iron House Home for Boys in the Smoky Mountains. But one day something horrible happened, and 10-year-old Michael became a fugitive, fleeing into the snowy wilds of a North Carolina winter. He never saw his brother again, and just as he ran from Iron House, Michael also runs from his past. He is content to kill the dishonest and criminal, to be the Old Man’s strong right arm, to leave the boy he once was at Iron Mountain…until he meets Elena.

Carmen Elena Del Portal is more than just a woman; Michael suddenly finds that she is his whole life. When she finds herself pregnant, he knows he has to start over one more time. But the New York underworld won’t give him up so easily. The Old Man may wish for Michael to find a good life with a wonderful woman, but his henchmen are a different story. In no time Michael is on the run again, back to North Carolina and the brother whose existence he tried to protect by denying it. But if he thinks that life is simpler outside the Big Apple, he’s wrong. Dead wrong.

John Hart writes lovely prose, filled with a complicated cast of mobsters, lost boys, corrupt politicians, beautiful but mysterious ladies, and witches. Iron House looms over it all, a stark presence of which Michael, for all his running, may never be free. For an immensely entertaining, complex thriller, try Iron House!

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Buncombe, Chatham, Hart, John, Madison, Mountains, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller