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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Mystery Reviewed by Justin Lugbill

Heartbreak of Revenge
By: Eleanor Wright
Mystery Fiction,
Ages, 12 and up.
ISBN # 978-0-578-03013-5

Reviewed by Justin Lugbill originally for Christian Book Review

Heartbreak of Revenge is a two part story that takes place during the middle of the 1900s. The first part of the story follows two boys through a period of 14 years (1941-1953). David is a white, middle class boy that enjoys typical activities for a boy. During the warm months, one of his favorite activities is swimming in a pond with his three best friends. However, upon arriving one day, he witnesses something horrific that changes his life forever. He witnesses his friends throwing stones at a small black boy. Realizing that this was not OK, he immediately put a stop to it.
Through that incident, David develops a short lived friendship with the small boy who had stones thrown at him. Jimmy, victim to the rampant, bigoted behaviors of white folks of the day, has a very meager life when he is introduced to David. As I read this book, I couldn’t help but shake my head in disgust at the cruel behavior that David’s four friends exemplified on that day (and throughout the book). While we have a long way to come for social equality, author Eleanor Wright gracefully navigates through the racially charged situations of the time, as well as the emotions, rationalizations, and thoughts that filled the minds of people who lived during that time.
For me, these vivid descriptions of the social injustices that took place during the middle of the century were some of my favorite parts. Writing about these times (I imagine) would be very difficult. However, Wright navigated these murky, dark waters quite well, and portrayed multiple characters ( and their beliefs) with great imagery, and insight into their minds. Born in 1985, I have seen the generational differences when it comes to prejudice. There are frequently stories of violence, verbal abuse, uneven income distribution, and so on, but I cannot imagine living in a time where such blatant acts of racism, and the rationalizations and hatred behind it, existed. The Heartbreak of Revenge did a great job of giving me a window into this time.
Moving back to the story, it becomes clear very quickly that there is more to the story than the initial confrontation. Not wanting to give the entire storyline away, I will simply say that the title is a great indicator to the overall theme of the book. Revenge, in any form, causes harms…often more harm than the initial act that is being vindicated. This book clearly shows this.
If you are looking to read a work of fiction that explores the nuances of racial tension in the 1940s and 1950s, this is a great choice. With some twists and turns along the way, and an ending that will throw you for a loop, Heartbreak of Revenge is a sure pick. Posted 19 Jul 12.
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