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Reviewed by Chris-Jean Clarke for Readers' Favorite
Southern Passage by Jim Yonker is set in the 1960s and opens with 18-year-old Buster, who has just graduated from a high school in St. Louis, seeking employment during the summer months as he needs the income to subsidise his college tuition, which starts in the fall. Thanks to his father, who works at the Pullman Railroad Company, he quickly finds employment at the Missouri Pacific Railroad in Texarkana. Although the location of the job means that Buster will have to move out of his family home in the North and move South for a short while, he is undeterred. He waves good-bye to his mother on the doorstep of their home, but as his family wants peace of mind in knowing where he will be living in Texarkana, his father assists him in finding cheap accommodation before saying his farewell. It isn't long before Jim Yonker has Buster exploring his new surroundings and newfound freedom; and enjoying the flexibility regarding his house rules, choice of meals or places to eat or visit, and the friends or girls he chooses to be acquainted with. However, as the story unfolds you will soon discover that Buster’s ‘Southern Passage’ will be no fairy-tale.
I love the concept of Jim Yonker’s gritty and true-to-life tale, Southern Passage, which could well have happened. I believe the premise will be of great interest to college students who are researching one of the following areas: the history of the railroads, the divide between the North and South and/or the racial prejudices and appalling acts of racism by white people towards black people during the '60s era. I also believe Southern Passage will appeal to avid readers who are 18+ and love first rate historical fiction books. There are sexual encounters as a backdrop to the story and violence and strong language interwoven throughout. I wish Jim Yonker every success with this story!