The Betterton Fracture
by W. Marshall Harvey
Trafford Publishing

"How convenient and comforting it must be to wake up white."

This book is set in the fictitious town of Betterton, North Carolina, where an influx of white supremacists take over and cause extreme division. The "townies" are soon outnumbered by the new residents who are then able to gain control by voting "their kind" into government positions. The book's premise is frightening, but something similar happened near Antelope, Oregon, when Rajneeshees, following their spiritual leader, moved to Oregon in the 80s and wreaked havoc on rural Oregon life. As the book so realistically describes, it could happen again.

As the story moves along, a young man is on trial for murder, and the author depicts the proceedings, reminiscent of Harper Lee's description of the trial of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird. This well-written scene is so intense that readers might need to remind themselves that this is fiction. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective. It makes the story easy to follow and the characters real. Some cringe-worthy words by Hutch exemplify how the dialogue helps flesh out individual personalities: "...leave the good clean streets of the village and cross through this pack of mix-matched mutts and mongrels... lay down with trash and you wake up smelling like it."

The characters include racists, a gay biracial student, a tolerant and adorable high school girl named Addison, and all the familiar folk you'd expect to meet in any small American town. All of the details, like the descriptions of a traditional wife and mother and her southern cooking, make the story richer and even more relatable. In short, this novel is superb. No spoiler here, but the book is summed up by young Addison: "Why do they find it harder to understand than to hate?" No reader will be sorry for picking up this exceptional book.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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