Readers’ Corner, Feb. 2023 Black Lives. Compelling Stories

By Bonnie McCune and Kathleen Duhamel ~

Harlem Shuffle. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead spins an engaging tale of 1960s Harlem during the height of the civil rights movement. Mostly honest Ray Carney, a likeable family man, strives to create a better future for his wife and children by opening a high-end furniture store. He’s also not adverse to fencing jewelry and televisions, no questions asked. When his cousin becomes involved in a high-profile robbery, Carney becomes tangled with a cast of sleazy underworld figures. Although the plot of Harlem Shuffle is not as dramatic as some of Whitehead’s works, anything from this accomplished storyteller is worth a read.

Lady Sings the Blues (Billie Holiday). Other jazz singers of her era may have had more vocal range and technical skills, but no one could wring the raw emotion out of a lyric like Lady Day. Her distinctive voice and impeccable style continue to inspire singers across the musical spectrum. This book is a brutally honest account of her incredibly hard upbringing, the racism she faced as a performer, and her struggles with drug addiction. Reading about her life in her own words was both inspiring and heart-breaking.

The Hate U Give: A Printz Honor Winner by Angie Thomas. Although marketed as a YA book because the main characters are high schoolers, this is no patronizing glib view deprecating violence and racism. A heart-rending telling of a young woman who loses a friend in terrible circumstances, it rings true and brings tears to the eye. Even better, it tempts readers to question their own beliefs and the society we’ve all haphazardly and irresponsibly created. No easy answers come forward, but you’ll treasure the characters who ring true and deserve to live their best lives.

Author Kathleen Duhamel writes humorous contemporary romance featuring “seasoned” characters. Her newest is Fed Up. 

Author Bonne McCune’s latest is Never Retreat, a suspenseful romance in Colorado’s wilderness.

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