4 out of 4 stars
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I cried. Rarely has a book so deeply touched me as did The Last Road Home by Danny Johnson which features a truly “color-blind” white boy in an age when racial tensions were strung out tight like a string on a guitar. The protagonist, Junebug, was orphaned early in life and lived with his grandparents on a tobacco farm. His friends (Lightning and Fancy) were the children of “colored” sharecroppers. The three children worked and played together, and they developed the deepest sort of friendship grounded in trust.
To write out the events of this book in a dry factual manner would never give it justice. How does one describe the pure friendship turning into love between a white male and a black female at a time when the girl could be hanged for looking at a white guy? I felt the hatred of those who could not fathom an interracial relationship, and I quaked at the fear of discovery. When Fancy’s brother Lightning disappeared, the sadness and confusion was palpable. Lightning’s eventual return brought a conundrum beyond compare. Each choice was fraught with peril. Junebug and Fancy’s life together would never be the same again.
The author did a masterful job of creating just the right amount of tension and relief. The story was not simply told, it was lived. The pace was perfect, not too fast or too slow. I felt an intimate connection with the richly-drawn characters. It was as if I were learning the characters in the same manner as I would get to know people in real life.
The Last Road Home deals with a section of American history that many would like to see dismissed. Unfortunately, racial injustice did not end when the Civil War was over. Told from Junebug’s perspective, I felt the impossibility of the choices he faced and cried when he did. Junebug and Fancy had to navigate through difficult times and deal with hard consequences, regret, grief, and healing.
Overall, I am happy to give this 4 out of 4 stars. If it were not for some explicit scenes, I would not hesitate to recommend it for almost all ages. However, I would not be comfortable with my 13-year old reading the descriptions of intimacy. Additionally, it could be hard for a younger audience to comprehend why some people acted the way they did, let alone deal with the raw emotions. Because of those two aspects, I would recommend this to those who are young adults or older.
The Last Road Home
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