Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mary Glickman places a Jewish family in Mississippi.

This novel about Southern Jews sounded intriguing, and I was pleased that it was every bit as good as I had hoped.

Home in the Morning

Mary Glickman’s Home in the Morning (224 pages, Open Road, $24.99) talks about a complex relationship among Jackson Sappaport, a Jewish lawyer from an established Jewish family of merchants and professionals in Mississippi, and friends from his youth. Jackson has had a boyhood and young adult crush on a local black woman, Katherine Marie, who worked for his family at one time. Her beau, Li’l Bokay, was also a boyhood friend of Jackson’s. Before Jackson left for college up north, at Yale, which he followed with Law School, something occurred which caused all these relationships to fall apart.

It takes a while, both because of the characters’ reticence and because of the way the story is told, for the true story to emerge. I won’t give away the secrets of the novel, but there is an account of violence and racial contempt that makes it hard for Jackson to continue in association with the friends he has known.

When he comes back from Yale, he brings a northern wife, also Jewish, who is something of a political radical. Stella Godwin is trained as a social worker, but she is also a beautiful woman who is as much in love with Jackson as he is with her. Together they try to do the right thing when they find themselves living again in Mississippi; but as times change, it becomes harder to stick to their earlier ideals.

The novel covers the time from the sixties, when Jackson is growing up in the south, until the nineties when some of the characters are reassessing what has happened in the last half of the twentieth century. Some wounds are so deep that they can never heal, but others can be soothed with the passage of time and some old friendships can become new again.

This story is told in a compelling manner, and it brings alive some of the racial tensions that we may have forgotten. These are memorable characters and it truly feels that their story matters. Mary Glickman has told it compellingly.

Mary Glickman

Home in the Morning is available at Powell's, Vroman's and Amazon.

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