Wednesday, May 11, 2022

New Review : When Stars Rain Down : Angela Jackson-Brown

 



4 out of 5 books


1930s Parson, Georgia, a town that is racially separated with blacks living in a section aptly named Colored Town. Seventeen year old Opal Pruitt lives with her Grandma Birdie after her mother abandoned her. Opal and her grandmother work as domestics for Miss Peggy.  Miss Peggy and Grandma Birdie are more like friends than employer/employee but they both understood the context that race plays in their relationship.  Regardless, Miss Peggy's family, her daughter and grandson, Jimmy Earl have always treated Opal and Miss Birdie like family.  Opal is looking forward to her 18th birthday and the town's annual Founders Day.  Jimmy Earl is home during the summer on a break from college. Opal is conflicted by the feelings that being in his presence evoke.  She is also interested in the Pastor's handsome son, Cedric who has dreams of one day playing with the Negro Baseball team.  
Jimmy Earl has a cousin, Skeeter, who openly displays his racist feelings towards blacks. As a member of the Klan, he led a raid on Colored Town which left destruction and devastation, but no lives were lost. The men of Colored Town met to determine how they can protect their loved one and possessions. Deciding to give the new sheriff a chance to back up his claim of being there to help the colored residents of Parson.  Weeks leading up to Founder's Day, Opal began to realize despite the fact that Miss Peggy's family were accepting of her and her grandmother, racial relations are very fragile and her friendship with Jimmy Earl is limited. She finds herself the victim of a physical attack that left her with head trauma.  When she is able to remember the details of the attacker and her attacker, it is only a matter of time before it all comes to a head with disastrous consequences. 
I love historical fiction from this era.  Jackson-Brown’s depiction of this small town included race relations, familial love and coming of age romance.  Although there are very intense moments, the tone of the book was not heavy or traumatic.  Filled with secondary characters that added additional layers to the book, WHEN STARS RAIN DOWN is one to savor.

Reviewed by Paula Allen


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