4 out of 4 stars
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The Snake in the Garden is a poignant and a moving historical fiction written by Deborah Hand-Cutler in collaboration with Brenda Sutton Turner.
An unfortunate circumstance forces back Queen of Disco, Regina Day, to Jefferson Springs, Arkansas, after thirty long years of being away. Her return brings back painful and horrible memories of the past that still haunt her. Even her loving husband, wonderful children, and successful career cannot dispel these memories and the guilt that goes with it.
In the warmth of the old house where she grew up and in the loving presence of her sister and other relatives, Regina feels happy, albeit, regretful of the lost times. The horrors of the past creep up on her, giving her temporary visit a bittersweet taste.
Unbeknownst to everyone, including Regina, herself, her homecoming would prompt a series of events that would lead to a shocking revelation.
Told in the third-person perspective, this is one great book with forty-two chapters and an Epilogue. It is interesting, intriguing, touching, and moving. It is one of the best books I have read so far this year. It depicts a multitude of subjects including love, family, courage, and freedom, as well as hate, bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, and racism. By alluding to a terrible and devastating event in the past early in the book, the author successfully piques the interest of the readers.
The plot is developed by alternately presenting the current events and very gradually revealing some incidents in the past through flashbacks. Though the readers may have a preconceived idea of what the story is about, given the memorable time in history, they may still be unprepared for the pain and grief the characters have endured and suffered.
Settings and scenes are carefully and vividly described in detail including the feelings and emotions of the characters that it is easy to imagine the fear, the confusion, the hate, and even the despair the characters feel over the things they could not control. Characters are well-developed and relatable. There are the admirable ones including Regina, Karen, and Sam; then there are the despicable ones like Judge Whittier and the Webers; and then there are the endearing ones including Rev. Charles Day, Sarah and Fred Martin, and Peter. The ending, though somehow inconclusive, is hopeful and satisfying.
I love this book. It is gripping and haunting. There are too many parts to like. What I consider the part I like most, however, is when Sarah Martin thinks that some white women actually would have liked to be friends with their colored counterparts but were ‘enslaved by their own society’s rules and norms’. It is painful but might actually be very true.
However, some readers may find the depiction of prejudice and violent scenes, like lynching, quite disturbing.
I like everything about this book. It is interesting and moving. It also appears professionally edited. I, therefore, rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to fans of historical fiction. Some violent scenes, however, may not be suitable for young readers.
The Snake in the Garden
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