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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Author: Michael Phillips
Publisher: Bethany House
Reading a novel set in the post-civil war south about blacks and whites learning to live together is a good thing. How many Caucasians stop to consider how terrible and difficult life was for slaves. Even after the abolition of slavery, it was a long hard road. Books like this provide that awareness and give whites an appreciation for the struggles faced by blacks even today.
This is the second book in the Carolina Cousins series. This new series doesnít suffer from being an offshoot of the popular Shenandoah series. Just like the novels of George MacDonald, a man who has served as a mentor to Phillips, character development is primary. The focus is on relationships and issues.
Phillips follows MacDonaldís lead in emphasizing the fatherhood of God, our relationship to him as children, and obedience as the primary way to know and follow God. Though this might be considered light reading, it contains thoughtful spiritual content. Like MacDonald, Phillips provides keen insights into human nature and the nature of God.
He is not afraid to challenge traditional thinking. His views, which are slightly unorthodox at times, can be a little unsettling, but they are also thought-provoking. Some may find them refreshing.
Particularly interesting are the romantic relationships. Jeremiah starts to wonder if Mayme, the woman he planned to marry, is interested in his long lost friend Micah, who comes to live with them on the Rosewood Plantation. Jeremiah begins to wonder if he has more in common with Emma, an uneducated former slave, who has a son named William. Phillips effectively portrays the insecurities and uncertainties typical in romantic relationships. He keeps you guessing as to what will happen.
Blacks and whites living and working together in the post-Civil war south may seem far-fetched but the good writing and storytelling make it believable. Thatís not to say that this group doesnít experience hostility and danger from others. They do. The story starts with an act of evil and then backtracks to fill in the events leading up to it.
This is a pleasant read, and since itís been shown that whites and blacks have different perceptions on racism, books like this can be a bridge to a more realistic perspective and promote empathy.
June 16, 2006