Jessilyn Lassiter no longer has to convince people she’s not a child. Having just turned 19 in the summer of 1938, her love for Luke Talley has never been more real. And Luke is finally beginning to care for her in the way she’s always dreamed of. But their budding romance is interrupted when Tal Pritchett—a young, black doctor—comes to Calloway, stealing the heart of Jessilyn’s best friend, Gemma, and stirring up the racial prejudice that has been simmering just beneath the town’s surface. The tension starts to bubble over when Jessie’s elderly neighbor Miss Cleta becomes the first white townsperson to accept Tal’s treatment. And when a young black man is lynched, Calloway is brought to its knees once again as Jessilyn realizes that her anger can make her heart as full of hate as the klan members who have terrorized her town and her family.
This is the third book of a trilogy that began with author Jennifer Erin Valent’s Fireflies in December, which won the Jerry B Jenkins Operation First Novel contest. That said, I haven’t read the first two in the series and feel I missed a lot because of it. With that being said, I also enjoyed this book on its own.
Taking place in the South just before World War II breaks out in Europe, I found this a fascinating setting that isn’t covered very often in Christian literature. The racial tension of the time provides a stirring backdrop for this story about a girl discovering what she wants out of life.
I found Jessilyn a strong character (sometimes a little too headstrong for her own good!) and loved her relationship with the hero, Luke. Every scene flowed naturally and it was a delightful read.
Most of all, I’m enamored with Valent’s writing. She has a way with words and some of her lines really resonated. Jessilyn’s voice is so real that your heart breaks when hers does. She’s so brutally honest with her readers, “But I suppose death does that to people. It sort of makes us all equal since we have one thing in common – a broken heart.”
Valent’s masterful writing held my interest when the story may have lagged a little for my taste. But I still cared deeply for the characters and am planning on reading the first two books of the trilogy.
Note: An advanced reader copy of this book was provided to me by Tyndale in exchange for my honest review, which is what you see here!