By Ann Fairbairn
Published by Buccaneer Books in 1966
For the first Friday Feature, I thought I would pull Ann Fairbairn's Five Smooth Stones out of the vault. Today, also being the worldwide celebration of Juneteenth***, it seemed appropriate.
This book was recommended to me in the 1990's. At the time, finding a copy was difficult. The book was out of print and could only be found used, but as you can see I managed to get my hands on one. I am happy to say that this book is now being called a "rediscovered classic" and you can get it in many various formats from amazon or indigo. Unfortunately, I think it is still flying under the radar.
Description from goodreads:
David Champlin is a black man born into poverty in Depression-era New Orleans who achieves great success and then sacrifices everything to lead his people in the difficult, day-by-day struggle of the civil rights movement. Sara Kent is the beloved and vital white girl who loved David from the moment she first saw him, but they struggle over David's belief that a marriage for them would not be right in the violent world he had to confront.
This description doesn't do this book justice. I read this over twenty years ago and it has always stuck with me. The writing is fantastic. It's fiction, but I certainly thought the characters were real. David's relationship with his grandfather is beautiful and I want to believe that existed and exists more than we hear about. The book spans four decades, from the Great Depression to the Civil RIghts Movement in the 50's and 60's. Despite David Champlin being a poor, black man he becomes a lawyer. No easy feat. Then he finds himself at a crossroads, he can have what he wants, marriage and security or he can join the Movement, a life of fight and struggle. This decision will have great impact on David, Sara, and everyone they love.
This book is about white supremacy, interracial relationships, the Civil Rights Movement, discrimination and prejudice and the struggle of the human spirit. When this book first came out in the 60's, I can only imagine the response it received and the relevancy it would have had. Over 50 years later, it's still relevant. Especially, today.
*** Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation- which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.