Arkansas Summer


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
307 Pages
Reviewed on 09/06/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

Anne Moose pens a poignant “southern way” story in Arkansas Summer. Hannah’s father dies suddenly of a heart attack! She adored her father, so much so she followed in his footsteps, becoming an attorney as well. Hannah and her mother, Catherine, mourn his loss. Although despairing, Catherine decides to tell Hannah about the events that led up to her birth. Sitting on the beach, Catherine begins to tell the story. Suddenly, the year 1986 rewinds to the summer of 1955. Out of college for the summer, Catherine travels to her grandparents' farm in Arkansas. She was nine years old the last time she visited. Her grandfather had recently died. Catherine comes to help her father settle the estate and help with her aging grandmother. Upon her arrival, Catherine is flooded with warm memories of her last visit to the farm. She remembers Jimmy and how they innocently played together as children, never considering the differences between her being a white girl from California and him being a black boy from Arkansas. However, as adults in 1955, it would be extremely dangerous for them to have any relationship. After learning that Jimmy was home from college for the summer, Catherine was giddy and anxious to see him again. Catherine and Jimmy are vehemently warned, yet the passion between them is strong. This summer in Arkansas would change the course of their lives forever.

Arkansas Summer by Anne Moose is a gripping story of love and loss. It is obvious the Civil Rights Movement had an intense influence on the author. The story reflects the depth of emotion and research behind every penned word. The narrative traverses two distinctly different story settings. As a reader, you truly cross over the forbidden tracks of time. The "southern way” with its Jim Crow laws once ruled the South. It is during this horrific time in history that Arkansas Summer unfolds. The conflict of the narrative is man versus man. Yet, it is also between innocence and guile. The characterization is above reproach. Moose depicts the heartless and hopeful, the passionate and the vile side by side. The ebb and flow, the ups and downs of the action keep your heart entangled and in turmoil. Each character has their moment of reckoning; however, the transformation of Mama Rae (Catherine's grandmother) is the most shocking and admirable. I applaud the character development of the main characters; they evolve and grow buffeted by time and adversity. As the story reaches its apex and the action begins to fall, I exhaled, believing this would be the perfect end. However, Anne Moose goes deeper into the denouement, penning an unforgettable end to a remarkable story. Anne Moose’s Arkansas Summer is an inspiring and impassioned piece of historical fiction.

Jennifer Ibiam

Arkansas Summer is a work of historical fiction by Anne Moose. After a long time, Catherine returned to her grandfather’s home in Arkansas, where her friendship with a childhood playmate, Jimmy, was revived. Jimmy was the son of her granny’s domestic staff member, a black woman named Sally. And therein lay the problem. The year was 1955, a time when segregation and racism were at an all-time high. The whites lived on the more prosperous side of town; the blacks stepped off the pavements to allow white people to pass, couldn’t take the buses or dine at restaurants with as much freedom as others, and aspiring to be more was taboo. Catherine and Jimmy fell in love during this period, a mortal sin that could cost him his life. Would love prevail?

Arkansas Summer by Anne Moose was an overwhelming and emotional read. This novel explored love, sacrifice, grief, hatred, racism, dreams, and happy times. Arkansas Summer delved deep into the ordeals concerning black people in the 1950s. Anne created a realistic storyline around two brave souls that tried to defy the status quo. The character and story development gripped my emotions so much that I cried. Unfortunately, although things are better today, we aren’t over the issue of racism, which may be pronounced or subtle. My highlight was when Mama Rae showed up with neatly arranged hair and a purse like she was ready to party. She was also my most favorite character. I enjoyed reading this book, and I encourage Anne to write more.

Pikasho Deka

Anne Moose's Arkansas Summer is a moving tale about a young woman's experiences in the segregated south in 1955. College student Catherine returns to her father's ancestral home in Arkansas after years living in California to spend time with her grandmother, Mama Rae, following her husband's death. However, Catherine finds herself appalled when she witnesses the treatment of black citizens by their white counterparts in the rural south. As she acclimates to her grandmother's home, Catherine catches up with her childhood friend Jimmy, the talented son of Mama Rae's housekeeper Sally. The two become inseparable once again and gradually fall in love. But a black man's relationship with a white girl in the Jim Crow laws-enforced deep south soon leads to disastrous consequences which will change lives forever.

Author Anne Moose tells a heartbreaking story set in the deep south during the Jim Crow laws era that will keep your eyes glued to the pages. With keen insight and thoughtful social commentary, the narrative keeps you hooked from start to finish. Every character is authentic, and you genuinely feel that you would have met these people in that vivid and violent environment. Catherine, Mama Rae, and Jimmy were my personal favorites of the bunch. Mama Rae's evolution as a character felt immensely satisfying to read. I found myself actively cheering for her. Arkansas Summer is a character-driven drama novel and one of the finest examples of slow-burn storytelling. I would recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction and romantic tragedies.