Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg

It's 1963 and Addie lives in a racially divided town in the South. Although her family is poverty-stricken and must scrabble for their very existence, they have deep love and affection for each other. But, trouble comes when Addie accidentally laughs at a white woman in town and her brother tries to rescue her from some racist bullies. Suddenly, her brother is on the run, her mother is in despair, and her uncle takes on civil injustices in town.
The first half of this book was pretty good. Burg definitely hammers home her views on racial injustice and bigotry. While some of the writing felt heavy-handed, I was still enjoying the story. But as the story progressed, Burg started adding in plotlines that were implausible in the town she had created: a quickly progressing trial where Addie becomes a star witness with only circumstantial evidence against the town's biggest employer, a not guilty verdict, a full community sharing of the property that had been at the heart of the trial, her brother is safe and sound and was able to get a lawyer to the little town to help his uncle, etc.
She could have steered away from the happy resolutions and made the book much more effective. As it was, it came off as a bit of wishful thinking that I didn't find award worthy. Nay.

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