Book 86 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from October 23 - 28
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
Summary (via the book jacket)
"This is East Texas, and there's lines. Lines you cross, lines you don't cross. That clear?"
New London, Texas, 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them.
"No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs."
They know the people that enforce them.
"They all decided they'd ride out in they sheets and pay Blue a visit."
But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.
"More than grief, more than anger, there is a need. Someone to blame. Someone to make pay."
Ashley Hope Perez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion - the worst school disaster in American history - as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.
Five star read. This one will stay with me awhile.
I agree with this note from the author: "In researching this novel, I was struck by the many ways in which whole swaths of lived experience have been largely excluded from historical accounts, in part because certain communities were not deemed worthy of note in newspapers and other sources considered authoritative and reliable. These silences need to be amended; I hope my fiction gives readers an appetite for stories lived in the margins of spotlit scenes."
She is right. I had never heard of this event.
At first I was concerned that I would get confused with the shift in perspective every few pages but I didn't (and especially liked "The Gang" as a narrator). It was hard to find places to stop because it was so readable and kept pulling me along, but I would have to take breaks because there was so much not being said and I needed time to absorb it. I also wanted to read it slower because I was so worried something was going to happen; I've seen what the consequences can be when a white girl wants to make trouble for a black boy during that time period.
Masturbation and sex references would make this an older YA read but there really isn't a lot of language.
A Quote from the Book
"A kiss. For a moment, desire and relief were greater than grief.
But it could not hold."