Monday, January 20, 2014

Julie's Review: The Secret of Magic

Author: Deborah Johnson
Series: No
Publication Date: January 21, 2014
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Pages: 416
Obtained: publisher
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Bottom Line: Interesting story but nothing we haven't read before  
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Just get it from the library
Summary: In 1946, a young female attorney from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a black man in the Deep South. Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country. As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhouns The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest. Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past. The Secret of Magic brilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.

Review: The Secret of Magic starts off with getting you riled up and very pissed off because of what happens right in the beginning of the book. You want justice and you do want revenge but at what cost?

Unfortunately after the beginning of the book, it meanders. It takes it's slow southern time getting to the climax of the story. And it doesn't end up being a murder mystery as I thought it would be after reading the prologue. It is more a story of relationships between whites and blacks in a small town in Mississippi. It's how everyone knows the truth but no one cares to acknowledge it until they are forced to. Did it make my blood boil? Absolutely. Was it enlightening? I don't know. Perhaps I did learn a little more about Legal Fund and how our black veterans were treated up until their return from WWII.

The most interesting part of the novel, was the book inside it, The Secret of Magic. How much of what is in that book is true? What happened to the kids in the book? Are they the adults Regina is working with now?

I'm not so sure sending a single black female to backwoods Mississippi in the 1940s was the most brilliant thing that happened in this book. There were times when I feared for her life. She was in a strange place and out of place. She didn't know how to act. While there was still racism in NYC, the races kept to themselves. In Mississippi, they are entwined. Their lives are so immersed with each other, that their histories are connected. This was perhaps what startled me the most reading the novel. The fact that these adults had grown up together, doing the same things for a long time and when they reached a certain age, they were separated. That's when hate started to take hold.

If you enjoy books about the south and race relations than perhaps this is the book for you. I liked it but I didn't love it. The reveal came to quickly for me and there were other aspects that I wanted to learn about but didn't.

Thanks to Amy Einhorn books for the ARC of the novel.



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