Continuing with the theme today of stigma and race, I bring you At the End of the Line a new release from Kathryn Longino, the pen name of the author duo of Abby L. Vandiver and Kathryn Dionne. To be perfectly transparent, I did proofread this title before publication, but this review is unsolicited and unpaid: I did purchase a copy of this title for my own library (and a couple of gifts for friends).
I was approached by the author duo of Abby L. Vandiver and Kathryn Dionne to proofread this book before the final print button was pushed. In a few hours I had run through the story, totally gripped by the characters and their emotional connection that spanned miles and years, without ever meeting. Starting in 1958 when civil rights was just starting to make an impact on the nation as a whole, the interjection of several different scenes and references to luminaries of the day helped to ground the book firmly in place while providing a solid sense for the reader of the fears, concerns and feel of the time.
Beatrice (Beanie) is just 15 and has been ‘traded’ into a marriage with an older and richer man by her parents. Sadly a not uncommon scenario for girls of that age in her small Utah community, she is dragged from all that she knows and loves and thrust into a ready-made family with two existing wives and several children: at the bottom of the totem pole. While the story could have been a happier one for her situation: her new husband is more than a touch dictatorial and abusive, after a beating she tries to remember the telephone number of a beloved piano teacher: assuming she will save her.
The phone rings, and Adeline answers. She is clearly not the person Beanie wishes to speak with, and yet she can’t help but feel for the child in an untenable situation. But all is not well in Adeline’s world: she is the wife of a successful, if not entirely likable man, and as a strong supporter of the Democratic party, her ties to both Boston and the Kennedys is one that she has cultivated and nurtured.
Told in alternating points of view, the story hops from Boston to Utah, to Chicago and Mississippi as the lives and experiences of the women unfold to provide uniquely voiced and emotive perspectives on their lives, their circumstances, and even the changes that are slowly building as the country is dragged into the first tentative steps toward racial equality.
Beanie is a character that will climb into your heart and stay there: from innocent child to determined young woman, befriending all who she meets: her honest appreciation of those around her, while often placing her in danger epitomizes her determination that racial equality is right and only fair. Despite her frustration with Adeline’s cautionary words and some rash judgments, her character is a wonderful combination of determination, brains and heart: exactly what many of those who were among the Freedom Riders displayed in those tense times.
Adeline takes a bit of warming up to: she is hiding huge secrets from everyone in her life, reader included. Slowly as the story unfolds, we see a deeply conflicted woman who has come close to losing who she really is, long before she finally finds the courage to be. Her story and life are also tragic, as the threads weave together readers are provided the opportunity to see the emotional toll that her choices have wrought. For those who think they “know” all the stories of the late 1950’s into the 60’s through the eras of Evers, King, Kennedy and even Johnson, this is a new look at the people: ordinary people who could (and most likely did) live similar experiences and came out the other side unbroken, but not exactly whole.
A gripping read that provides a fictional, yet emotionally accessible entrée into the time, historically accurate and laden with names of scions of the movement, this book manages to bring a tumultuous time in America’s history into an easily readable story that will encourage many to investigate further.
I purchased an eBook copy of this title for my own library. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Title: At The End of The Line
Author: Kathryn Longino
Genre: African-American, Literary Fiction, Literary Fiction /Family Saga, Literary Fiction /Historical Setting
Published by: Media Web Publishing
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Book Depository
A wrong number, and a cry of desperation at the end of the line, sparks a long distance friendship between two women who’ve never met. Through fourteen years of trouble and heartache of a stagnant domestic life, the struggle for civil rights, and the stigma of interracial relationships, a bond forms between the two that changes both of their lives forever.
It’s 1958, a time when women and Negroes are deemed second-class and are being second-guessed, from there arises a perfect storm for change and the perfect time for an unlikely friendship.
Beatrice “Beanie” Peterson, forced to marry at fifteen and live with two sister wives, six children, and an abusive husband twenty years her senior, is looking for a way out.
Adeline “Liddie” Garrison, friend of Jack Kennedy, wife of a prominent Boston business man, and resident of Beacon Hill has already found her way in.