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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Archer: A Novel by Mira Jeffreys takes us to the small-town Deep South where even today, prejudice and hatred are rampant and small towns are often ruled by dynastic despots. Lena, a 39-year-old, African-American freelance photographer and her 23-year-old daughter, Nadia, are living in Kansas when she receives a call from the grandmother who virtually raised her, Big Momma. Big Momma begs Lena to return home to their hometown Archer in Georgia, a place Lena had fled from in terror over twenty years earlier after being brutalized by the ruling regime of Archer – the Mayor and the Chief of Police - and effectively run out of town. Big Momma is dying and before she passes she wants to reunite her “babies” to say goodbye and try to mend the broken relationships of their youth. Lena has never told Nadia who her father was and why she had run from Archer in terror but now it is time to return to her hometown and face the past and all the miseries and trauma that might entail. Nadia and her mother set off on a 16-hour car journey that will change their lives forever and allow everyone to confront the demons they’ve carried around in their heads for so long.
Archer is one of those books that tug incredibly hard on a reader’s heartstrings. Mira Jeffreys has done a superb job with the characterizations in this novel. Lena and Nadia especially were portrayed as incredibly strong, vital women and yet vulnerability and angst from their traumas shone through on every single page, kept the reader deeply engaged in their struggles and evoked immense empathy for the pair. I felt the standout character was Aidan/Jack who was portrayed so beautifully and lovingly by the author that one couldn’t help but wonder if she had had a Jack in her own life on whom she based this character. The relationship and the deep love Lena, Nadia, Janine, and Jack all portrayed for the matriarch, Big Momma, was beautiful and clearly superseded any questions of race or color. It was refreshing to find this loving relationship amongst the hatred of racism and prejudice. If anything, I can say a reader of this story will put it down at the end and feel satisfied and warm inside. Surely that is all one can ask of a relationship novel. This was an outstanding read and has definitely awakened my interest in this author. I look forward to more work of this caliber flowing from her pen. I can highly recommend this read.