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North Platte, NE
4 Stars Out Of 5
August 30, 2009
North Platte, NE
The turbulent 50's and segregation vs. integration in the South. What happens when you take actual events (Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, integrating Little Rock) and insert a fictional reporter and his family into the events. Richard Doster takes us on a ride back to the 50's and brings those events alive. It took me just a few chapters to get into the book, this is book #2 and I haven't read #1 so I had to get acquainted with the family and what they had gone through in #1. But, it didn't take long for me to get very interested in the family and the events going on. I got some amazing insight into some of the events like Rosa Parks and the bus strike that happened as a result, and the Little Rock 9. So much so that I actually took it upon myself to do further research. I plan on getting book #1 "Safe At Home" and having my kids read these as part of their high school American History. These books are that good at making history come alive.
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.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, andDoster 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.
As a kid growing up in a quiet northern California suburb, the early days of the civil rights movement in the late 1950s came only as close as our black & white TV screen and the occasional photo-spread in LIFE magazine. Richard Doster brings those images to real life in Crossing The Lines, his second novel set in the south.Crossing The Lines continues the story of newspaper reporter Jack Hall whose big break comes when he is asked to join the sports writing team of a major Atlanta daily. Because he had some experience reporting on the negro community at his previous paper, Halls editor sends him to Montgomery, Alabama to report on a minor incident involving a woman who refused give up her seat in a WHITES ONLY section of a city bus.Theres news out of Montgomery that there might be a short-lived bus boycott and Hall agrees to go, despite the protestations of his wife.Hall meets a young Martin King, a young pastor who impresses the cynical newspaperman with his faith and quiet demeanor. The two form a relationship built on mutual benefit and Hall becomes an eye witness to some of the civil rights movements most pivotal events.Doster weaves his fictional characters into stories of actual events so seamlessly that it is difficult to know where reality ends and fiction begins. The dialog given King and others is historically accurate based on the authors exhaustive research.As he sees and learns more about the struggle for justice, Jack Hall also confronts long-held racial stereotypes held by the white Christians with whom he goes to church, including his wife Rose Marie who cant understand why people are making such a fuss.Doster gives his fictional characters honest feelings and doubts. The dialog between reporters in the newsroom is a bit tamer than I suspect it really is, but other than that, Crossing The Lines is a good read that opened my eyes to an important period of American history I didnt realize I had missed.