Sunday, August 23, 2009

Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund

In the early days of the civil rights conflicts, Birmingham, Alabama was infamous for its racial injustice. Police Chief Bull Connor, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., lunch counter sit-ins, the Klan, and the bombing of the church where four little girls died...all play a part in this book that brings to life the shameful history of our nation's past. Having grown up in Alabama, not far from Birmingham, and experienced first hand some of these inequities when I was a girl, I was very interested in reading Naslund's account.

Some people have found it hard to keep up with the characters, and I must admit that I had a bit of trouble myself in the first part of the book. But once Naslund sets up the framework of the book, and once I got the characters straight, the sensuous language of the book told the story beautifully. Naslund is a very gifted writer and knows the human heart well and her writing can be very reflective and somber and soaring all at the same time. It's a book that will probably not be a quick read, because it is chock full of real and imagined characters who's lives intersect as they persevere in their struggle for equality, but it is one that you should read and savor in bits and pieces enjoying Naslund's skill in capturing the turmoil and heartbreak of the time.

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