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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Found in Pieces by George Rollie Adams takes us back to the late 1950s, just as the Civil Rights Movement in the United States was gathering momentum. All across the nation but particularly in the South, communities were searching for ways to defy the law of the land, as espoused in the Supreme Court decision of Brown vs Board of Education. The ruling that segregation of public schools into white pupils and black pupils was unconstitutional sent shockwaves through many communities and states scrambled to find ways around the ruling. Small towns and their newspapers were forced to take a stance on school integration. For Pearl Goodbar, the new owner and editor of a previously defunct weekly newspaper, the Unionville Times, her stance on integration would be key to whether her new business venture was to succeed or fail spectacularly. In Unionville, a small town that straddled the Arkansas /Louisiana border, things were about to heat up with the return to the town of a native son, Elton Washington, a young black man determined to make a difference somehow in the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. From the minute he arrived in town and challenged the prevailing perspectives on black rights, it was clear Unionville was primed for chaos and violence. Pearl Goodbar was determined to be the one who would record it all for posterity and lead the calls for decency, calm, and human dignity.
Found in Pieces is a powerful social commentary on a turbulent period of history, especially that of the South. Author George Rollie Adams has used the small-town setting to show the entrenched and fundamentally vile attitudes of many whites of the time to not just denying human rights for the black population but actually denying their humanity and justifying their own barbaric acts against some of the population as no different to dealing with animals or savages. Although much of the rhetoric from these “good ole boys” is deeply offensive to me, not a black reader, the author was attempting to place the dialogue in its historical perspective. I suppose, as a reader, the most disturbing aspect of this whole story is that this rhetoric is still in common use some sixty-odd years later and many would argue it is even getting worse in recent times. The story does give us an excellent insight into where that deep-bred hatred and belief of white supremacy came from and is agitated, especially in the South, and for that, the author deserves great kudos. The plot is clever and well-constructed and the narrative exceptionally easy to read. I particularly enjoyed the concept of not only a woman editor and newspaper owner in the late 1950s but one with as much humanity as Pearl. I loved that she changed her own stance on integration over time as she discovered more about the black community in Unionville and the history of the black struggle in the South. For me, this gave the story real moral authority and I can highly recommend this read, which is both enlightening and entertaining.