All God's Children

Overview

The time is the 1890s. The place is small-town Kansas, where Pearl Eddy, a young widow, is struggling to raise her four sons on a failing farm. Pearl may be the soul of goodness, but the odds against her are bad indeed. Her beloved late husband has left behind crushing debts. An illness has stripped her of sight, and her Quaker faith makes her an alien in a community where the narrow-minded rule. Prophet is a thirty-five-year-old black man - an ex-prize fighter turned hobo and thief - who becomes a target of hate...
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Overview

The time is the 1890s. The place is small-town Kansas, where Pearl Eddy, a young widow, is struggling to raise her four sons on a failing farm. Pearl may be the soul of goodness, but the odds against her are bad indeed. Her beloved late husband has left behind crushing debts. An illness has stripped her of sight, and her Quaker faith makes her an alien in a community where the narrow-minded rule. Prophet is a thirty-five-year-old black man - an ex-prize fighter turned hobo and thief - who becomes a target of hate in the lily-white town, and whose latest robbery sends him on the run for his life. A man who willingly lies, cheats, and steals to survive, he is the last person in the world whom Pearl should trust, much less protect from the posse tracking him down, yet she does both. And when a forlorn family of Japanese immigrants gone astray seeks shelter and work with her, she cannot find it in her heart and faith to turn them away. Now that Pearl Eddy incites the wrath of a mob for protecting a black man and an immigrant family, the town she has made her home turns against her. Thus the stage is set for a true grit story of challenge, courage, and sheer stubborn belief in doing the right thing.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a heartfelt story of faith, redemption and loyalty, Eidson (St. Agnes' Stand; The Last Ride) conjures up life on the Kansas prairie in the 1890s. Pearl Eddy has more trouble than any woman should ever have to bear. Recently widowed, left with four sons to raise and her farm deep in debt, Pearl is a lone Quaker in a Methodist town, barely tolerated by her neighbors. She's also blind. And then things get really bad. Driven by her religious convictions, Pearl gives reluctant sanctuary to a black man running from the law and to a destitute Japanese family tormented by racism. Surrounded by intolerance and plagued by the violence she hopes to avoid, Pearl struggles to keep her family together, avoid the bank's foreclosure on her farm and still remain true to her faith's insistence on nonviolence in the face of antagonists hobbled by no such scruple. Pearl never wavers, despite the odds against her. The black man, Prophet, is a thief and liar who initially sees Pearl as just another easy mark to swindle and deceive. His boxing skills, however, save Pearl and her children from beatings and rape, and each then slowly begins to learn respect for the other. Eiko is the matriarch of the Japanese family that has been robbed of its dignity while merely seeking peace and a home. She is tough and practical, and her special talents compliment Prophet's brawn and Pearl's brains. These unlikely allies must face small-town fear, prejudice and violence. Eidson has created a powerfully visual tale filled with the timeless virtues of courage and loyalty. Reader's Digest Condensed Books; film rights optioned by British director Gerard de Kame. (June)
School Library Journal
YAA tribute to faith and its power to sustain and redeem. The novel's opening scene takes place on the Kansas prairie in 1891 as Pearl Eddy buries her husband. She is left alone to raise their four sons, ranging in age from 5 to 13, in a small Protestant town where they are the only Quakers. Already suspect because of her religion, Pearl rouses the community's ire by allowing a black fugitive to take refuge in her cellar. As if harboring a Negro is not bad enough, she then takes in a family of indigent Japanese immigrants denied access to the promised land by a legality. Led by a band of ruffians known as the Redmen, the town takes out its collective intolerance and xenophobia on the Eddy household. Pearl's sewing business falls off to nothing, the bank is ready to foreclose on her farm, and she and her children become targets of indignity, even assault. Throughout, she clings to her strong belief in nonviolence and in loving thy neighbor. If the trials Pearl is asked to bear come a little too fast and thick for believability for some, the book remains an uplifting story of courage and of the interdependence of all humanity. Engaging characters, powerful themes, and a plot that piles crisis upon crisis will captivate YAs.Dori DeSpain, Herndon Fortnightly Library, Fairfax County, VA
Kirkus Reviews
The cards—and the corn—are stacked as high as an elephant's eye in this treacly tale of true grit on the Kansas plains in the early 1890s—an unintentionally uproarious amalgam of To Kill a Mockingbird, Friendly Persuasion, and Les Misérables.

Pearl Eddy, a plucky Quaker widow (who's also blind), tries to support herself and her four growing sons by farming, sewing, and fending off mortgage foreclosure. It's a relief to report that nobody ties her to the railroad tracks, but Pearl does endure a dizzying profusion of disasters, including the opprobrium of lunkheaded neighbors who violently protest when she takes in, first, a black bare-knuckle fighter named Prophet who's fleeing a lynch mob, then a dispossessed Japanese family whose newly purchased land was reclaimed for unpaid taxes—all the while condemning anybody who resorts to "violence" rather than face being beaten senseless. That's not entirely fair: Eidson (St. Agnes' Stand, 1994) does convey the unshaken purity of Pearl's faith effectively, sometimes even movingly. But the novel becomes more unreal, and predictable, as it progresses. Prophet, for instance, keeps leaving the sanctuary of the Eddys' farmhouse (and the little boy who of course idolizes him), only to keep having a change of heart and returning in the nick of time to. . . let's just say that this is the sort of story in which everybody happens on the scene at the Exact Moment when somebody else's fortune, or virtue, or bodily existence is threatened—not excluding a superannuated samurai "Warlord," a pet rooster, and even a reformed rapist and a mollified banker who are there to help turn the tide at the climactic flurry of fire, rattlesnakes, and vigilantism.

The inevitable television miniseries is undoubtedly in production at this very moment.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525942351
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/1/1997
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.16 (d)

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