3 out of 4 stars
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Molly McKinnen doesn't understand why people are so mean to her and her family. In the county they live in, folks don't want to have anything to do with them. As a result, they live far away from everyone and work only in their gas station. The kids in Molly's school aren't any different, as they would always beat her up and even nearly killed her at one point. And the story is the same for her elder brothers since they would also come back from school with bruises on their bodies. But just what could their family's crime be? And why are her parents and grandfather not forthcoming with answers to her questions?
Molly McKinnen is determined to find out why her family is ostracized and treated horribly. What would she find out? Would she be able to change the narratives of the McKinnens? You have to read The McKinnens by Melvin C. Johnson to find out.
Set in the time of Jim Crow laws, this book is a tragedy that revolves around the life of Molly Mckinnen from her childhood days into adulthood. I enjoyed the author's use of the first-person point of view (Molly's perspective) to narrate the entire story. It helped me to relate to her character easily and understand her behavior and feelings. But what I liked most about the book was how well the author portrayed Molly's thoughts through the different stages of her life. Her narrations seemed to mature as she did, which made her character more lifelike.
I enjoyed the author's writing style and found his descriptions to be vivid. I liked how he was able to sustain the suspense in the narrations till the end. I must commend the author for how well he described the events and surroundings, even though I can't say the same thing for those of the characters' physical appearances. However, I loved how his graphic descriptions helped me to form clear pictures in my mind. Also, the characterization is commendable. From the get-go, I immediately empathized with Molly and her family. I couldn't believe how angry I was at the people who persecuted them, and I wished there was something I could do for them.
Furthermore, I enjoyed the unity and love between the members of Molly's family. I think they realized that they had no option other than to be there for each other, which I appreciate. I especially loved how Molly's elder brothers, Mark and Michael, looked out for each other. More so, there are some life lessons to learn from this book. And my favorite moral is about the advantage of listening instead of talking.
Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy some aspects of the book. Towards the end, the author seemed to be in a hurry to wrap things up. It's hard to give an example of what I mean without spoiling the book for you. But a more identifiable issue is that of the unbelievable dialogues in the book. The conversations, especially those from children, seemed unnatural, as the kids in the book spoke like adults. More so, I didn't enjoy how the story ended. I know it's a tragedy book, and I wasn't expecting a happy ending; however, I wished for a more exciting conclusion.
In conclusion, I rate The McKinnens three out of four stars. The pros are way heavier than the cons, so it is only fair to knock only a star off its rating due to the issues I mentioned above. The book also seems professionally edited since I noticed only a few errors in it. I recommend it to readers who like character-driven fictionalized stories, especially those who enjoy tragedy books.
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