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Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
In The Shadows Of The City by James Jewell is a coming of age story set against the backdrop of an unforgiving society that can mercilessly break budding souls. We meet Jack Wallace, a young man struggling to handle his high school education while trying to make sense of the social realities tied to his faith, race, and the injustices he sees everywhere and every day. He is an angry boy and the truth is that he doesn’t even know who he needs to be angry at, and quite often his anger comes out at the wrong moment and is directed at the wrong people. Can he find the courage to right the wrongs of his past and create his own space in society or is he going to live with a label from others?
James Jewell’s novel is character-driven, a novel with a strong setting and powerful psychological underpinnings, punctuated by streams of consciousness that make the reader feel the pain of the protagonist and connect with his emotions. The themes of family and friendship, of crime and its consequences, and of injustice are well explored in this narrative. Readers will discover the bond between Jack and Henry, a friendship that started from their childhood as they attended the same vacation Bible classes and explored each other’s backyards, but even this friendship can’t save them in trying moments.
The author weaves a story that captures and underlines the hypocrisy that is commonplace in society, even amongst self-professed righteous religious men and women, a story infused with realism. This use of contrast enriches the narrative and allows readers to connect more intimately with the protagonist. The point of view is brilliantly done, and it mirrors the mind of the protagonist in a succinct manner. In The Shadows of the City is a gripping story that captures the soul of a society that is broken and that breaks the young.