My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Abortion, homosexual tryst, marital infidelity, a preacher’s son with a reputation as a philanderer and the attending gossip generated by such things steered much of this story’s action. Ironically, the presence of “believers” amid all this depravity brings forth a nonfictional feel to this fictional tale.
The preacher son’s storyline fits perfectly within the historical fiction genre. Events leading to and including the envy fueled racist tinged attack on Tulsa’s (OK) profitable black and indigenous American populated Greenwood District provide the backdrop to the narrative of the son and his in and out of love partner.
Billy Ray and Benjamina, better known as Benny, are the attracted but distracted duo trying to sort their feelings out as the inevitable march towards tragedy steps on. His heart breaker reputation and her heart broken situation would cause an impasse in ordinary times. But in this time of the riot before the storm idealistic inclinations like love at first sight to Benny just doesn’t seem right.
The bigger picture tension surrounding the couple(?) and their families can’t be ignored. Something is in the air, on the ground insidious but invisible. The black and brown people of Greenwood smell the threat of it and feel the fear of this shadowy menace yet still don’t quite know the havoc that awaits.
Marlene Banks, an author I was not familiar with, does a good job of guiding us (readers) from the ill will conceived in hearts to the ills that it inevitably led too: the wanton obliteration of lives property and dreams of a whole city. The most heinous of all sins occurred here with the shedding of innocent blood. And Tulsa is not alone in that era's expression of mass hatred. Chicago in 1919 and Rosewood, (FL) in 1923 experienced similar outbreaks of racist mob violence.
The writer used dialogue well to explain the historical backdrop leading up to the story. This served as a double duty device that introduced her characters and the setting. This is a story about the faithful at its heart. So, the bible student in me appreciated her choice for Billy Ray’s last name. It took me some pages (at least 100 maybe 200) but once I picked up its significance how their romance would turn out or not became apparent.
This is certainly worth reading and then some. It had some gaffes within the plot line choices. But it is quality and as such is a “Jimdandyier” read in my opinion. *
*Jim Dandys are typically given 3 star ratings. Jim Dandys that stand out due to a distinct element such as subject or character receive 4 star ratings and as such are "Jim Dandyers." My about me page explores Hall of James ratings in more detail.