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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Pitts once again demonstrates his gift for historical fiction; having examined the African-American experience of the 20th century in 2009's Before I Forget, he turns his lens to the painful aftermath of the Civil War in his newest. The traumatic period is viewed from the perspectives of two very different, but equally inspirational protagonists. As soon as the end of the fighting has been announced, runaway slave Sam can only think of reuniting with his wife, Tilda, whom he has not seen in 15 years. Despite the difficulties of travelling from his current home of Philadelphia to Buford, Mississippi, and his uncertainty about how warmly she will welcome him, Sam perseveres. His encounters in the South, which jarringly assert that the end of the war does not equal an end to bigotry and hatred, parallel those of Prudence Kent. An affluent white woman from Boston, Kent is headed to Buford to establish a school for former slaves, an idealistic vision that rapidly earns the violent wrath of white Southerners. In lyrical prose, Pitts unflinchingly and movingly portrays the period's cruelties, and triumphs in capturing the spirit of the times through eminently-identifiable lead characters.
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