Saturday, July 18, 2009

Safe At Home

By Richard Doster
Published by David C. Cook (2008)
348 pages

Painfully Honest Portrayal of Segregation in the 1950's
In the spring of 1953, Jack Hall is content being a sports columnist for a small town south of the Mason-Dixon line, thrilled to write about the town’s minor league baseball team. The town of Whitney is populated with people who would do anything for their neighbor; the idyllic place to live.
Jackie Robinson has only recently broken the color barrier in major league baseball, creating a fissure allowing more may squeeze through.

It is that fissure that rips the town of Whitney apart when a 17 year old “colored kid”, Percy Jackson, joins the minor league team.

Author Richard Doster is painfully honest in his portrayal of the people of Whitney. The helpful, kind neighbor turns into a bearer of fear and hate. Those hired to enforce the law become lawbreakers. Doster paints Jack Hall very realistically, portraying him as someone comfortable with segregation, who, over time, wrestles with his ingrained beliefs as the town fractures.

Doster makes the reader uncomfortable – and that’s a good thing – as he continuously holds a mirror to the reader’s face as if to ask: would you have responded any differently?

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