Overall, a satisfying sequel that will engage readers with its characters and the depiction of rural England during World...

THE BROOK RUNS FREE

WAR CHANGES EVERYTHING

A look at the trials and tribulations of family and farm life during World War II.

Lecouteur (The Brook Runs Free, 2009) reintroduces readers to the Thomas family in this sequel. Emotionally, not much has changed for the Thomas family, especially the Thomas girls. The mother, Dorothy, remains a strict taskmaster unwilling to take on any of the added work while the father, Fred, appears only engaged in the farm. In detailing a family with more than six children, Lecouter does an excellent job of establishing the sibling dynamics and differentiating each of the Thomas girls. Readers will feel sympathy for the overworked Mary, who works as a land girl on the farm, as well as the headstrong Grace, who wishes to be free from her mother’s control. In the midst of the characterization of the Thomas family, Lecouteur introduces a number of different plot developments that bring some of the reality of the war home to the farm. The Thomas family is left to deal with a number of wartime realities including rationing, farm subsidiaries, evacuees and an extreme labor shortage. The novel does a solid job of maintaining a balance between developing individual characters and portraying the overall environment of farm life during World War II. On the one hand, readers will find the same lengthy descriptions of harvesting and farm work found in the previous novel; yet not even the farm is kept away from the realities of World War II, with fighter planes and soldiers practicing maneuvers around the English countryside. The novel reads at a faster pace than its predecessor largely due to the added depth of the characters. However, readers looking for a starker, more dramatic depiction of World War II might wish to look elsewhere because the novel doesn’t depict graphic descriptions of battles or fighting. Instead, readers experience the war through the eyes of characters living in a setting far removed from the bombings of London and other urban areas.

Overall, a satisfying sequel that will engage readers with its characters and the depiction of rural England during World War II, although it may put off readers looking for a graver, serious historical novel.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-4490-5362-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2012

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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN

A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-80046-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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ON JUNETEENTH

The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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