A series of people find their fates intertwined, from a teenager's seduction by the outside world, to his romance with a girl whose life is precariously balanced, to the struggles of his middle-aged parents.
Crossing the Lines by Richard Doster is the sequel to Safe at Home, but it's not necessary to have read that volume in order to fall in love with this rich characterization of the South in the 1950s. Jack Hall is moving with his wife Rose Marie and son Chris to Atlanta after their home was bombed because of their association with a black baseball player. Jack initially takes a position at a newspaper but then begins a magazine with two friends to emphasize the South that the world isn't seeing. In the midst of Civil Rights movement, relations between black and white are strained in the deep South and in the Hall household. Jack meets various important figures, including Martin Luther King Jr, of the movement which opens his eyes to the injustice facing blacks and makes him question what's right and what should a good man do. I loved this book and didn't want it to ever end. By introducing the concept of a magazine, Doster is able to include fascinating stories about the birth of Rock and Roll and Nascar and an essay by Flannery O'Connor about Southern literature. Jack and his friends begin the magazine because they realize that the North and the rest of the world think of Southerners as angry, racists. They want to emphasize the wonderful and beautiful things about their beloved home while gently introducing controversial topics. The South still suffers from some of this misconceptions, and Doster tackles each one smoothly. There are so many books on the market now about the South during the Civil Rights era that are filled with white characters who are 100% for the rights of blacks, but Doster reflects a more accurate history in the Hall family. Rose Marie thinks that individual blacks are okay, but doesn't want them dating her son, eating in the same restaurant or using the same bathrooms. Chris is ferocious in his defense of his black friends. Jack is caught in the middle. He has many friends who are black, but he has a hard time understanding why things need to change. The book is told through Jack's eyes, and the reader sees his gradual understanding of the injustice his friends face every day. This book ends in 1960 with much more to come in the Civil Rights movement, and I look forward to travelling to that era with the Hall family again soon.
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