Tag Archives: Race relations

Ann Tatlock. Traveler’s Rest. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2012.

There is an old adage about letting going of what you love: if it returns it was yours all along, if it doesn’t it never was. But what if you are the one who was let go, and you never wanted to be in the first place?

Jane Marrow finds herself in that heartbreaking situation when her fiance, Seth Ballantine, returns from Iraq a quadriplegic. He loves her, but Seth is unwilling to let Jane forfeit a “normal life”: to be carried over the threshold by her husband, to become a mother, and to be free of full-time care giving responsibilities.  He worries that she will waste her life away with him and will eventually resent him if they go through with the wedding. For her part, Jane is unwavering: she is resolved to never leave Seth or to give up on their plans, even though practically everyone has given her an “out”. Seth finally explains that her insistence on staying together is hampering his recovery, so she gives him some space.

At the Veterans Affairs hospital in Asheville, Jane meets a variety of people who support her and Seth in this difficult time. Two Ugandan cousins serve as aids in the hospital, and they always lighten the mood. A retired doctor with an uncomfortable past, Truman Rockaway, helps Jane understand forgiveness and faith. And Jon-Paul Pearcy is a volunteer musician at the VA who shows Jane and Seth that it is possible to live a full life with a disability. Along the way, Jane learns about love, trusting God, and letting go.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Buncombe, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational, Tatlock, Ann

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

Sundee T. Frazier. The Other Half of My Heart. New York: Delacorte, 2010.

Minni and Keira King are fraternal twins, so they already look different from one another. But most people have trouble telling they’re related at all, or don’t believe it, due to a one-in-a-million genetic coincidence: Minni is white, and Keira is black. This phenomenon, known as “mixed twins,” occurs because only eight or nine chromosomes in the human genetic code determine skin tone. Each human being possesses the possibility to pass on a lighter or darker skin tone to their children, and both father and mother’s genes are in the mix. Born to a black mother and a white father, Minni and Keira often describe their family as a walking chessboard.

Now entering the sixth grade, the twins and their parents live in dreary, drizzly Washington State. But a phone call from their maternal grandmother in North Carolina means a visit to the sunny South. As a child, their mother competed in  the Miss Black Pearl Preteen pageant in Raleigh, winning the Miss Congeniality award. Grandma Johnson is determined that her granddaughters will continue the tradition, and is even more certain that one of them will win. But Mama and Grandma Johnson have very different ideas of what it means to be beautiful, and what it means to be black. While practicing for the competition, by turns both girls feel criticized and incomplete due to their many differences in appearance and talent. This pageant marks Keira and Minni’s coming of age, when they must learn to accept their uniqueness along with their identity as sisters.

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

 

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Filed under 2010, Children & Young Adults, Frazier, Sundee T., Piedmont, Wake

William F. Kaiser. Hellebore. Vilas, NC: Canterbury House Publishing, 2011.

In this rousing sequel to Bloodroot, the Civil War has ended and peace has been declared. Billy Jack Truehill and his wife Elvira May have retired to a small farm deep in the high mountains of fictional Afton County, North Carolina. But while peace may be the official state of the once more United States, life is far from peaceful in a North Carolina undergoing Reconstruction. Billy Jack must face raiders from both the former Union and Confederate armies, an ongoing feud with the treacherous McBigger clan who killed his parents, and the willful ways of his own wife, who insists that in order to be a true husband, Billy Jack must always stay by her side. Unfortunately for Billy Jack, veteran of two armies and a seasoned hunter and tracker, the pastoral tranquility of farming is not very exciting. He longs to once more take to the Blue Ridge as the wild, fierce mountain man he knows himself to be at heart. But soon he’ll have all the excitement he can stand, as a terrible new power known as the Ku Klux Klan begins to rise and wreak havoc on an already destitute community. Billy Jack must once again take up arms to defend his life, his family, and what he knows to be right.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Historical, Kaiser, William F., Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Horace Kephart. Smoky Mountain Magic. Gatlinburg, TN: Great Smoky Mountain Association, 2009.

Horace Kephart on the summit of Mount Kephart, courtesy of the National Park Service

Horace Kephart, known as one of the fathers of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, was a prolific writer and naturalist. He is well known for his nonfiction works on camping and the inhabitants of the southern Appalachians, but it was not until 2009 that his great- great-granddaughter and her husband were able to publish his long-lost novel, Smoky Mountain Magic. Originally written in 1929, the novel draws deeply on Kephart’s years of experience living in and wandering through the Smokies.

It’s 1925, and a young man from New York arrives on the outskirts of Kittuwa (Bryson City) in the Smoky Mountains. John Cabarrus has been away for fifteen years, but has finally returned to claim the land that is rightfully his. But his property is still in possession of the wicked W. G. Matlock, the greedy businessman who stole it from Cabarrus’ grandfather, so John must keep his intentions secret. Unfortunately, a local troublemaker sees Cabarrus on the property, possibly panning for gold. Matlock finds out, and goes after the prodigal son with a vengeance.

Marian Wentworth, a young woman visiting relatives in Kittuwa while on holiday from college, is immediately drawn to the mysterious, handsome Cabarrus. She soon discovers his family’s sad tale, and Cabarrus tells her the whole truth- he isn’t searching for gold, but for beryllium, uranium, and other mineral deposits in high demand as science advances. If he can find enough, his career and fortune will be made and he can regain his grandfather’s prized land from the scheming Matlock. Marian is determined to help, so the two young people search the mountains together for this precious treasure. Along the way, they encounter witches, the Little People, gum-chewing teenagers, mythical beasts, ornery dogs, the Cherokee, and magical crystals.

In this fascinating glimpse into the colliding cultures of the Roaring Twenties and the still wild back woods of the Great Smoky Mountains, Horace Kephart has written a masterful portrayal of the mountain folk, the Cherokee, and the land itself. Readers of adventure, natural science, and early twentieth century literature will all be delighted.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Kephart, Horace, Mountains, Suspense/Thriller, Swain

Barbara Wright. Crow. New York: Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012.

“We will never surrender to a ragged raffle of negroes, even if we have to choke the Cape Fear River with carcasses.”
-Alfred Moore Waddell, leader of the 1898 Wilmington race riots

The only complete overthrow of a local government in US history, the Wilmington race riots successfully removed the Fusionist party from power in the North Carolina town of Wilmington. In early November, a group of  insurrectionists known as the Red Shirts seized power from the legally elected officials, both white and black. Armed with rifles and a Gatling gun mounted on a wagon, they burned the offices of the  local African-American newspaper and wounded, killed, or ran off the majority of the black population.

Crow is the story of this coup, as seen through the eyes of Moses Thomas, a young African-American boy just entering the sixth grade. Moses is a typical child; he likes swimming, eating pie, riding bicycles, and getting into a little trouble now and again. Bright and motivated to learn, he loves going to school and finding new words, but lately he’s been frustrated. There’s trouble brewing in Wilmington, and no one will explain what’s going on. Groups of men in red clothing walk the streets, getting drunk and listening to angry speeches, and he isn’t allowed to enter the slogan contest at the hardware store, even though he’s under 18 and has the best entry. Worst of all, everyone is whispering words like “lynching” and “rape” without telling Moses what they mean.

Despite the tension,  Moses is mostly happy. His daddy, Jack Thomas, is an educated and honest man who works as a reporter for the Record in addition to serving as an alderman. Father and son share a particularly special bond, and together they spend hours playing word games and discussing philosophy. The other pillar of Moses’ life is Boo Nanny, his aged grandmother. Boo Nanny is the opposite of her son-in-law Jack in many ways–superstitious, filled with stories and poems, and prone to making bad-smelling medicinal concoctions. A cautious person lacking in self-esteem due to the abuse she endured as a slave, Boo Nanny’s ideas on the best ways to approach the growing conflict with white Wilmingtonians often cause her to clash with Jack, but the little family loves one another deeply all the same.

But with election day looming and the Red Shirt violence increasing, will the relative peace of Moses’ small world be shattered forever? A mature and heartbreaking look at an often ignored piece of American history, Wright’s novel, though aimed at young adults, will capture readers of all ages.

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Wright, Barbara

Jody Meacham. Through the Heart of the South. San Jose, CA: Doodlebug Publishing, 2010.

It’s the summer of 1968, and Chris McAndrew should be relaxed and looking forward to his senior year of high school in Shortridge, North Carolina. But this year, the local black school, Booker T. Washington High, is closing, and all of the students there will matriculate at the formerly whites-only Shortridge High. The School Board fought long and hard against this integration, and when nothing prevented it, did everything they could to make this year as uncomfortable as possible for the black community. Class activities and trips are eliminated, and if any black player should even think of scoring the winning point in a football game, there will be hell to pay. Chris is convinced it’s just plain wrong to treat anyone this way, but speaking up means being labeled a “nigger-lover” by the rest of the whites in Shortridge, especially his girlfriend Susan Marks’s angry father, Wade.

But as Chris and his best friend Cam get to know the new students, especially Malachi Stevens, a particularly gifted singer and football player, it gets harder to be friends in the classroom but treat them as less than human when school lets out. Susan and the rest of the town continue to try to convince Chris that “they” are the ones taking everything from the white population and polluting it, but somehow that doesn’t make sense. The situation finally comes to an ugly head when a local NAACP representative is murdered and found by his young daughter, and a teenage biracial couple flee to South Carolina to get married, only to return under a shadow when they find out it’s illegal. With the Vietnam War hanging over their heads and the railroad industry that supports Shortridge sliding under their feet, the graduating class of 1969 must at least agree on one thing: the times, they are a’changin’.

This heartfelt and engaging coming-of-age novel is Meacham’s first, and is based partially on his own experiences growing up in Hamlet, North Carolina.

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

 

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Historical, Meacham, Jody, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Richmond

Jimmy C. Waters. The Bender Legacy. Toccoa, GA: Currahee Books, 2011.

The story of the Bender Family, begun in Waters’s New Bern: 1710 in the Carolinas, continues in this account of the Civil War in and around the family’s hometown of New Bern, North Carolina. Since Martin Bender built the family plantation in the 18th century, life has been good for the Benders- they have become successful cotton farmers and dry goods merchants. This novel begins in 1854 at the deathbed of John Knox Bender, the current Bender patriarch, as he instructs his sons in a shocking legacy passed down from father to son since Martin’s time. John Knox’s three sons, Philemon, Bryan, and Jake, are as different as can be: Philemon, the eldest, is boisterous and commanding, while Bryan, the middle son, is a quiet, bookish young man with a crippled arm. Jake, the youngest, is the sharply intelligent first mate on a ship transporting cotton to Britain. Although each reacts differently to their father’s surprising command, they all agree to honor his wish and keep the family legacy.

Soon, though, they will be tested. The dying John Knox Bender foresees what none of the rest can imagine: war will strike the South in just six short years. As the three sons scatter to the winds in an attempt to defend their homes and homeland, we accompany them to witness the war in different places: from the trenches on battlefields, through the eyes of a blockade runner out to sea, and where the conflict was perhaps the most brutal: on the farms and homesteads of Southern families. As these young men and their compatriots fight for their lives and for everything else they hold dear, some will emerge from the conflict, while others will fall.

Half history and half historical fiction, Jimmy C. Waters weaves statistics, facts, and a plethora of imaginary characters together in this stirring sequel to New Bern. Witness every battle that took place during the War Between the States in North Carolina, on the front lines with the brothers Bender.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Craven, Historical, Waters, Jimmy C.

Roy Irwin Gift. Moon Blue.[United States]: Spirit Books, 2011.

Sergeant Holly Rollins comes home to Raleigh, North Carolina in the spring of 1943 to recover from the bloody carnage he experienced on Guadalcanal. With him he brings malaria and a lung fungus, a load of shrapnel embedded in his back, and a mind tormented by the horrors of fighting the Japanese. His hometown hails him as a hero, he’s given a medal of honor, and the mayor asks Holly to ride next to him in a victory parade, but that doesn’t change the fact that Holly’s best friend since childhood and comrade-in-arms, Powell Reddy, is buried in a swamp back on that island. Sergeant Rollins needs time and space to heal wounds both physical and mental.

Unfortunately, Raleigh in 1943 isn’t a peaceful place for healing. LaBelle Blue, the black woman who raised Holly, needs him to investigate the murder of her granddaughter Lana, and bring justice to her killer. This is no easy task in a time of such rampant disregard for the life of a young, poor, black girl, but LaBelle wants to bury her grandchild, so Holly goes looking. As he investigates, the young sergeant turns up old friends, enemies, lovers, and many memories. Angered by the racism and segregation that frustrate his attempts to discover the murderer, Holly quickly becomes entangled in the events surrounding Lana’s death, which encompass more than he could imagine.

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

 

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Gift, Roy Irwin, Historical, Mystery, Piedmont, Wake

John Sayles. A Moment in the Sun. San Francisco: McSweeney’s Books, 2011.

This big book takes readers back to the America of the late nineteenth century with all of that period’s optimism, adventurism, technological progress–and its imperialism and racism.  Part of the story takes place in Wilmington, North Carolina where two families–one white, one African American–experience both imperialism and racism in very different ways.  The Manigaults, a powerful white family, resent the changes that the Confederate defeat brought.  The family patriarch, Judge Cornelius Manigault, values his honor and disdains the rabble who are organizing to take back the state for the white man.  Still, in the end the Judge joins forces with the men who are plotting to suppress the African American vote on election day, only to be surprised by the violence that follows.  Dr. Lunceford is the patriarch of an African American family who has made a comfortable place for himself and his family.  Feeling part of this country and yet eager to see the wider world, his son Junior volunteers to fight for America in Cuba.  Neither patriotism nor a life of honor and service will protect the Luncefords; their community in Wilmington will be destroyed.  The Luncefords head north, to New York, and a life of struggle. The judge’s son, Niles, Junior Lunceford, and Junior’s good friend Royal Scott will cross paths in the Philippines;  not all of them will return.

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

Click here to see documentary material on the election of 1898 in North Carolina.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Sayles, John