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Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite
Anne Moose pens a poignant “southern way” story in Arkansas Summer. Hannah’s father dies suddenly of a heart attack! She adored her father, so much so she followed in his footsteps, becoming an attorney as well. Hannah and her mother, Catherine, mourn his loss. Although despairing, Catherine decides to tell Hannah about the events that led up to her birth. Sitting on the beach, Catherine begins to tell the story. Suddenly, the year 1986 rewinds to the summer of 1955. Out of college for the summer, Catherine travels to her grandparents' farm in Arkansas. She was nine years old the last time she visited. Her grandfather had recently died. Catherine comes to help her father settle the estate and help with her aging grandmother. Upon her arrival, Catherine is flooded with warm memories of her last visit to the farm. She remembers Jimmy and how they innocently played together as children, never considering the differences between her being a white girl from California and him being a black boy from Arkansas. However, as adults in 1955, it would be extremely dangerous for them to have any relationship. After learning that Jimmy was home from college for the summer, Catherine was giddy and anxious to see him again. Catherine and Jimmy are vehemently warned, yet the passion between them is strong. This summer in Arkansas would change the course of their lives forever.
Arkansas Summer by Anne Moose is a gripping story of love and loss. It is obvious the Civil Rights Movement had an intense influence on the author. The story reflects the depth of emotion and research behind every penned word. The narrative traverses two distinctly different story settings. As a reader, you truly cross over the forbidden tracks of time. The "southern way” with its Jim Crow laws once ruled the South. It is during this horrific time in history that Arkansas Summer unfolds. The conflict of the narrative is man versus man. Yet, it is also between innocence and guile. The characterization is above reproach. Moose depicts the heartless and hopeful, the passionate and the vile side by side. The ebb and flow, the ups and downs of the action keep your heart entangled and in turmoil. Each character has their moment of reckoning; however, the transformation of Mama Rae (Catherine's grandmother) is the most shocking and admirable. I applaud the character development of the main characters; they evolve and grow buffeted by time and adversity. As the story reaches its apex and the action begins to fall, I exhaled, believing this would be the perfect end. However, Anne Moose goes deeper into the denouement, penning an unforgettable end to a remarkable story. Anne Moose’s Arkansas Summer is an inspiring and impassioned piece of historical fiction.