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There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse's stunning debut, Missing Isaac.
It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople's reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac. In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it's all over, Pete--and the people he loves most--will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.
A moving and involved family saga
I received a copy of this book from Bookish First in exchange for a fair review.
Missing Isaac features three families prominently, but the story is really about the town of Glory, Alabama in the 1960's. Pete's family is white and well off, but in a quiet way that serves to build up the small town rather than flaunt it. Isaac's family is black and he and his mother work for Pete's family for many years and are beloved by their employers. The Picketts live in a place in town where no one goes because they are a family who does not like outsiders and are considered "strange" because they keep to themselves.
While some of the content can be a bit corny, I was surprised at how much I fell in love with the characters and couldn't wait to figure out what would happen with each of them. This would have been a great book to make a series because you don't necessarily get everything wrapped up in a bow at the end. Two tragic deaths occur in the book that shape everything that happens, but most especially the death of Isaac. Although his body wasn't found, his abandoned truck was and he is assumed dead. The local sheriff doesn't do much to find out what happened, but Pete and his grandfather never forget their friend and spend years trying to find out.
The resolution comes quick, and I wish had included more about the justice received when the people responsible for Isaac's death were identified. Also the false accusations toward John didn't seem all that serious or needed, but ultimately serves to bring he and Lila together.
It's a story we've heard many times about life in the South during the fight for equal rights, but you can't help but fall in love with these families and the way they stand up for those who are unfairly treated in their community.
Beautiful, heartwarming story that shows it is possible for everyone to get along regardless of race or wealth.