In Spirit & Truth
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IN SPIRIT & TRUTH is a story of race, love, social pressure, and personal change, across multiple cultures. Bobby Johnson's family was part of the great northern migration of the 1950s, seeking a better life and dependable work in Michigan's then-booming auto industry. During the annual layoff for model-year changeover and at every other opportunity, however, the family returns home to rural Alabama, to live with Bobby's grandparents. Amid the racial tensions of the summer of 1963, 10-year-old Bobby meets Millicent Cummins (Mercy), a 9-year-old African-American girl. The novel follows their secret and unlikely relationship through three tumultuous decades.
Couldn't stop reading this book
This is such a good book. Hard to believe it is the author's first published fiction as it is so well written. Living in Minnesota and having family in Georgia, the book had special meaning for me as I used to go to Granpaw and Granny's "down south" every summer growing up. I love how this book captures the deep friendship and love between Mercy and Bobby and the ups and downs of any long distance relationship and that the love is still there no matter how often or infrequently you talk to or see each other.
I loved this book - Mercy and Bobby are very real characters, and their friendship is beautiful. Bobby's journey of discovery seemed authentic as he discovered that Mercy's black skin had nothing and everything to do with who she was . I read it twice.
A story with homestyle spirit and social truth
Dave Hopper's novel is as charming as it is culturally relevant. The characters are the kind of Dickensian small town Americans (and others) that would make anyone smile. The story aptly captures the social norms of rural Alabama and working class Michigan from the 1960's through the 1980's. The places and spaces are familiar and memorable. The nostalgia is not belabored, and the historical signposts serve as just that, without trying to retell important events, but simply letting them guide the reader through the time at hand.
Bobby, Hopper's narrator, is believable and relatable, and while his voice does not have the post polish, it only makes Bobby feel more like a real guy telling us about his life. At first blush the plot indicates apprehension for cliche, but the reader will be relieved. The plot's twist and turns are plausible but not predictable, relevant but not didactic, and apropos without being copouts.
Overall, "In Spirit &Truth" is an excellent story, charmingly told. It's worth reading, and when you do, you're sure to find something familiar, and something to think about. You're also sure to pass it on to your friends.