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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
Catfish: A Novel by Madelyn Bennett Edwards is an energetic and poignant narrative that explores themes of love, family, and racism, set against the backdrop of a small town in the deep South in the sixties and the seventies, where the activities of the Jim Crow era and the Ku Klux Klan still defied federal laws. It is an impassioned story with deep echoes of Richard Wright and Langston Hughes. Written by an author who was raised by a woman of color, this book is about a love that is stronger than the color line.
In this spellbinding historical novel, young Susanna “Susie” Burton is a white girl who suffers a lot of abuse at home. Born into a powerful white family, she has no idea of what family really is until she meets an older Negro named Catfish. She becomes a friend of Marianne, Catfish’s granddaughter, as well. Susie has found in her affection for Catfish what a real family looks like. When Susie falls in love with Marianne’s cousin, Rodney Thibault, she meets with opposition from both her father and members of the Ku Klux Klan who are determined to break them apart. Can they find the strength to brace the storms, navigate through the violence, and take control of their love? The answers are very surprising.
While I adored the young couple, Susie and Rodney, it was Catfish who caught my attention; a man of great courage and fine human qualities. Readers will enjoy his values and the influence he has on young Susie. Madelyn Bennett Edwards paints a world of racism, where the white supremacists were ruthless to people of color, a reality that still haunts contemporary America. This narrative is bold and filled with emotion, with characters that are endearingly real, and it raises questions that need answering. Catfish: A Novel will change the way we look at people of other races, thanks to the author's great achievement in the characters of Susie and Rodney.