by James Rozhon
Gotham Books

"His honest feeling… that… had something to do with blacks and all the races combined with it, he was convinced was true."

Until he meets Delisa, Mark embraces his police officer father’s racism against blacks and his preference that their home state, Tennessee, secede into the Confederacy. But on the brink of a civil war, Delisa, a black clerk at Goodwill, gets into a car accident heading home from work through a Confederate attack. Mark falls in love with Delisa at first sight, rescuing her from the wreckage. He immediately abandons all his previous political and cultural beliefs. Mark’s sister Sue also falls in love with Delisa. The problem is their father, whom they discover at another attack site. Mark, Sue, and Delisa retrieve Delisa’s brother, DeShawn, from potential attacks on him in his otherwise all-white neighborhood. On the way home to confront their father, they video another attack and bring one survivor to the nearest hospital. This man reveals what really happened at the site, calling into question their understanding of Mark’s dad’s involvement in the movement and inspiring them to volunteer to fight for the Union.

Mark’s instant attraction for Delisa makes for a passionate and impulsive writing style. The characters’ swearing, joking, and flirting (sometimes too much) effectively reflect the raw feelings in the political atmosphere. The narrator steers this young, relatable cast into thoughtfulness and direction. Newly in love, the lovers question anything endangering their right to be together. Readers discover with them the truth behind the videos they take as they talk with politicians along their travels around town. Descriptions of Chattanooga color the narrative with history and geography. Having come to conclusions based on sound evidence and their newfound admiration for people they once hated, the main characters speak out against bigotry and hypocrisy, preventing war, at least for the time being. The book celebrates everyday heroes in a potentially more violent future.

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