3 out of 4 stars
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Charles's dad, Biff, owns a hardware store, a lumberyard, and a 500-acre plantation next to New Orleans. Biff does not own slaves but hires African Americans to work on his plantation and in his businesses. They are all treated equally and with respect, the same as the white employees. Elsa is a Quadroon who works as the office manager of the hardware store. She demands a handshake and respect from everyone. It was common for men to have Quadroon mistresses who they supported and provided for, but they never marry them. White women in good social standing were taught to believe that sex was for creation, not enjoyment. It was up to the Quadroon mistress to provide enjoyment and excitement to the men. Elsa and Charles are fond of each other, but social standards will not allow them to be together. Elsa wants Charles to commit and respect her and does not want to be his mistress. What can they do? Will they go against the social standards they have grown up with? You will have to read the historical fiction Unfamiliar Innocence by Cindy Butler to find out.
I would love to see the world we live in today develop the convictions that Biff held and taught Charles. If only people would "see the person, not their color," "treat everyone with the same respect," "understand there is good and bad in every crowd," "not judge the whole because of one," and "understand that a person's character is the only thing that matters." It would be a much better world. I also like how the author developed the characters. I could picture each of them and felt like I knew them on a personal level.
There are a couple of things I dislike about this book. Parts of the historical aspect of the book were not believable. For instance, women had social standards they had to live by, and I cannot picture anyone saying "a man is sexy." I do not believe "sexy" was a common term during this time period. Another time, Elsa's Grand Mama refers that something is like a "bulldozer." I cannot visualize a buggy and bulldozer parked next to each other. Bulldozers were not invented until 1923. Although I know color and status are all that mattered in our history and still do in some groups, I dislike that this attitude was ever started and has continued through time.
I was disappointed by the number of errors I found in this book. There were over ten errors in the first half of the book. A professional editor would have found most, if not all, of the mistakes. They consisted of misspelled names, grammatical errors, wrong verb tenses, and typographical errors. Although I love the concept of equality for all in this book, I can only give this book 3 out of 4 stars due to the number of errors. There are no other flaws in the book to warrant a lower rating.
I recommend this book to any teenager or older reader who enjoys historical fiction and likes the concept of equality for all. There is some borderline profanity that may be offensive to sensitive readers.
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