Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Book Review: Ginny Gall by Charlie Smith

Title: Ginny Gall
Date Published: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 464
Format: Hardcover
Source: TLC Book Tours


A sweeping, eerily resonant epic of race and violence in the Jim Crow South: a lyrical and emotionally devastating masterpiece from Charlie Smith, whom the New York Public Library has said “may be America’s most bewitching stylist alive.”

Delvin Walker is just a boy when his mother flees their home in the Red Row section of Chattanooga, accused of killing a white man. Taken in by Cornelius Oliver, proprietor of the town’s leading Negro funeral home, he discovers the art of caring for the aggrieved, the promise of transcendence in the written word, and a rare peace in a hostile world. Yet tragedy visits them near daily, and after a series of devastating events—a lynching, a church burning—Delvin fears being accused of murdering a local white boy and leaves town.

Haunted by his mother’s disappearance, Delvin rides the rails, meets fellow travelers, falls in love, and sees an America sliding into the Great Depression. But before his hopes for life and love can be realized, he and a group of other young men are falsely charged with the rape of two white women, and shackled to a system of enslavement masquerading as justice. As he is pushed deeper into the darkness of imprisonment, his resolve to escape burns only more brightly, until in a last spasm of flight, in a white heat of terror, he is called to choose his fate.

In language both intimate and lyrical, novelist and poet Charlie Smith conjures a fresh and complex portrait of the South of the 1920s and ’30s in all its brutal humanity—and the astonishing endurance of one battered young man, his consciousness “an accumulation of breached and disordered living . . . hopes packed hard into sprung joints,” who lives past and through it all.

"A suburb of Hell" - that is what Ginny Gall is. I was very intrigued by the premise of this book. Not knowing much about black history I wanted to read a book that focused on that topic at its core. Ginny Gall certainly applies to the black people that had to live with Jim Crow laws. Being able to be lynched just because of the color of your skin must have been terrifying.

We meet Delvin Walker. Having had a shaky upbringing (to say the least) he has been fighting prejudice his entire life. The novel focuses on the good and bad in humanity which I really liked. I loved how Delvin continued to fight the odds stacked against him and strove to be a fine man, whether the community believed he was or not. 
The author did a fabulous job weaving plot and character development, and helping you feel what it must have been like for a black man in the south. Eye opening, sad and filled with glimmers of hope, this is a book I would highly recommend. 

1 comment:

  1. I so admire people (and characters) who strive to be good when all around them is bad.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!