By: David Armstrong
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Publication: April 2020
Reviewed by: J.M. LeDuc
David Armstrong has written a riveting novel that was as true in the very beginning of the civil-rights movement as it is today.
Based in the deep south, David tells us a story through a box of letters found after the writer of the letters, Emily Hodge, has passed away. I have to be honest, when I began reading The Rising Place, I was skeptical that a book written in this style would be able to hold my interest, but I was wrong. The emotion and the power of the letters written by the central character pull the reader into the story in a way I have not experienced before. The Rising Place tells a story about a young woman who has been brought up in a town steeped in southern culture. A place where blacks and whites are far from equal and do not intermingle except when the blacks work for the whites.
Emily Hodge falls in love with a young man and is carrying his child when he goes off to war. As bad as the stigma of being single and pregnant was in 1941, it is extrapolated by the fact that her suitor is 1/8 black. At that time and place, that makes him black. Period. Once this knowledge gets out, Emily is ostracized by her community, and all the people she thought were her friends turn on her. The only person who stays by her side is her black friend, Wilma. The Rising Place deftly tells of life before and at the very beginning of the civil-rights movement as well as the beginning of organizations such as the KKK.
Through Emily’s letters we gain a better understanding of racial divide, whether it be in the 1940’s or today. We also gain an incredible perspective on what it is like to keep your moral and ethical standards when everyone around you is telling you different. But most of all, we learn how important it is to be “color blind” and to love people because of their spirit and not because of the color of their skin.
Quill says: I highly recommend The Rising Place to all readers regardless which genres you enjoy. David Armstrong has cut through all genres with this amazing story. It is a thriller, a romance, a literary novel, and so much more. If it were up to me, The Rising Place would be required reading in all schools.