3 out of 4 stars
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Nine Notches is a poignant and riveting historical fiction written by TJ Spencer Jacques.
Best friends Sherman Campbell and Brandon Fortier are graduate students writing a dissertation for the completion of their doctorate. Sherman is the son of an OB-GYN and an attorney and councilman-at-large, and the whitest black guy Brandon has ever known because of Sherman’s light complexion. Brandon is the son of the fourth generation CEO of Fortier International Shipping which means he is a very rich white guy but he has the heart and soul of an artist, therefore race does not matter to him at all.
After one of their numerous arguments about Sherman being black and Brandon being rich, Sherman comes up with a topic for their dissertation which is the elimination of race. Their research leads them to a 160-year old secret that would change their lives as they know it.
This is an enthralling and unforgettable novel about slavery, racism, prejudice and discrimination among others. It also portrays culture, tradition and a little scheming and court drama. Through vivid descriptions and passionate narrative, the author successfully takes the readers inside the French Quarters in New Orleans of 1835. The book depicts not only the physical abuse the men and women of color endured and suffered at the time when the color of the skin decides the kind of life a person would lead, but also the emotional and mental scars that decorate the soul of dark-skinned people of that era in history.
The author masterfully wove a beautiful tale in an easy-to-read style that makes the readers want more than the already 500 plus pages of this book. Moreover, he created several admirable and endearing characters, first of which is Beatrice, the mulatto daughter of a free woman of color in St. Dominique by a third-generation colonial, who was abandoned by her father/master, auctioned then bought by her new master for his nocturnal pleasure, and birthed nine children into slavery. Not only was she pushed into a life with no options, but she also experienced fear and betrayal.
While the most important part of the book, for me, is the depiction of unyielding resolve to do what is right and necessary, what I like most is the unpredictability of the book; the surprising turns of events that make this book difficult to put down.
Obviously, I enjoyed it a lot. However, some of the minor characters were simply dropped from the story and were never mentioned again. Though other readers may not make a big deal out of it, it somehow gives me an incomplete feeling. Moreover, there are noticeable errors within the entire book which are mostly typos (like if I have run to away and his mom placed had the diary).
I, therefore, rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is a riveting and unforgettable novel about love, freedom, family and friendship among others. I recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction, love story, romance and rising above adversity. Scenes of sex, violence and cruelty may not be suitable for young readers.
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