Lunch-Box Dream – by Tony Abbott (2011)

Lunch-Box Dream

The retro feel of this book cover caught my eye, and the description sounded like a good story with some substance to it. It is set in 1959, just when the Civil Rights movement was simmering. The book jumps back and forth between two families, one black and one white, each with their own unique problems. Bobby is the main character. In addition to his parents having marital problems, he and his brother Ricky can’t stand each other. Bobby and his brother and mother are on a three-day road trip, driving their grandmother back to Florida. Along the way, they stop at Civil War battlefields because Ricky is obsessed with history, especially the Civil War. Ricky and Bobby are always arguing and fighting with each other. In contrast, the black family is tight-knit and loving. Their struggles come from outside the family – racism and prejudice when they are out in public. Their 10-year-old son Jacob goes missing and they are hysterical with fear that Jacob has been kidnapped or killed.

The story had such great promise, but just seemed to fizzle out. I thought at some point the two families would meet, that Bobby and Jacob would be talking to each other, that there would be some sort of conclusion that we all struggle with the same things regardless of our skin color. But the families actually never interacted with each other, making the story seem disjointed. Also, there was just too much bickering and fighting and angry words in Bobby’s car. Too much negativity in a story can kill it, and I think it  ruined this story. This is a book I should have passed on.

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Abraham’s Well – by Sharon Ewell Foster (2006)

Abraham's Well

It took me a week and a half to read this book, a very long time for me. The depressing nature of this novel almost made me abandon it. The story is built around a young Black Cherokee girl, Armentia, who is a slave. She is owned by a Cherokee couple who at first treat her like a daughter, but later sell her to a white man, who wants to use her as a breeder. One terrible thing after another happens to Armentia – the forced march of a thousand miles (the Indian Trail Of Tears), being separated from her mother, being raped, losing everyone in her family, and eventually being a refugee during the Civil War.

The story is unusual in that it focuses on what it was like to be both Indian and black back in the 1800s. Both groups were mistreated horribly in our country. There was so little hope, so little that turned out well for them. Life was just one long string of tragedies.

The part of the book that I enjoyed most was when Armentia and her mother went to the secret worship gathering in the woods at night. The preacher gave a powerful sermon about Joseph of the Bible. He also made this observation about the people gathered together in the woods:

“The way has been hard for us. The Trail changed us – I know because I, too, walked the Trail. It tried to defeat us. Many of us lost our lives. But look at us, those of us who survived, here tonight.” He smiled at us. “It has been hard. There have been many disappointments, many lost dreams. But look at yourselves. You have survived! We have survived!” He turned around the circle, his eyes stopping on each one of us. “And look at us, look at how beautiful we are. Many languages, many colors, from many lands – yet, we love one another…. You are God’s children. You are the ones for whom He sacrificed His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. You are the sons and daughters in who the Breath Giver is well pleased. We are all one. We are all one family, one Beloved Community. And He has not forgotten you.”
(pages 192-193)

The story was well written, but was so full of sadness that it was hard to read.

 

 

Gone With The Wind – by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

Gone With The Wind

Margaret Mitchell spent a decade of her life writing her novel, “Gone With The Wind”. It originally began as a way to pass the time as she was laid up with an ankle injury. The story was set in the south during the Civil War and Reconstruction era. Margaret was a true Southerner, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She grew up hearing stories of the glorious South, and of the War Between The States. Although the book is fictional, it does give the reader a window into the heart of the south.

At the center of the story is Scarlett O’Hara, a spoiled young woman who lives on her parents’ plantation, living the life of a wealthy belle. She yearns for the love of Ashley Wilkes, but instead he marries the kind, compassionate Melanie. Then the Civil War breaks out, leaving Scarlett and her family desperate and impoverished. Rhett Butler keeps popping up in the story and trys to win Scarlett’s heart, but her fixation on Ashley keeps her from appreciating Rhett’s affections.

The historic flavor of this book is incredible. It’s like stepping back in time, and walking through the 1860s. You read of the pleasant life of the well-to-do families and their social customs. The chapter where Atlanta is burning is so vivid that you can see it in your mind. And the descriptions of the wounded soldiers and the doctor trying to treat them with almost no supplies is heartbreaking.

One of the things most interesting to me was the contrast between the characters of Scarlett and Melanie. Scarlett has ambition and drive, but is totally devoid of conscience or caring for others. Melanie, on the other hand, has an almost other-worldly aura about her. She is deeply caring of others, and sees their hidden hurts when no one else does. Her humble nature is directly opposite to Scarlett’s. The relationship between the two women is fascinating.

This is not a book you can rush through. Pick it up when you have the time to read it leisurely. Enjoy those thousand-plus pages!

 

The Eye Of Moloch – by Glenn Beck (2013)

The Eye Of Moloch
What do you do when life has kicked you down over and over, the world is against you, and your hope is gone? You retreat to lick your wounds, rest for a bit, then re-group to decide whether it’s worth doing battle again.

This is the condition at the beginning of “The Eye Of Moloch”. Six months have passed since the end of “The Overton Window”. The band of Founders’ Keepers is a defeated group. The fire seems to have gone out. But from the ashes of despair comes a small spark that re-ignites the flame. They become convinced that no matter how outnumbered they are, they just can’t quit.

The book is full of action, impossible situations, heroic characters, and government oppression. The story introduces another group of people who say they want to restore America, but are brutal and violent. They want to merge with the Founders’ Keepers group, which wants no part of them. Although the battle seems impossible to win, you will feel hope rising in you by the end of the book.