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When Stars Align by Carole Eglash-Kosoff

When Stars Align

by Carole Eglash-Kosoff

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Forbidden love is at the center of Carole Eglash-Kosoff’s novel, When Stars Align. Beginning just a few years before the Civil War and spanning the end of slavery, reconstruction, and the advent of Jim Crow laws, the author offers a tender tale of young love between a mixed slave boy and a privileged white girl. The couple’s love ages and expands against a background of heinous violence, deep rooted hatred, and the undoing of America’s peculiar institution.

The novel opens in the mid-1800s with the rape of a young slave girl by the heir to the Moss Grove plantation. Henry Rogers is an arrogant, hot head who believes he can do whatever he wants. While he is affectionate towards his mother and respectful, to a point, of his father, Henry lives his life as if no one else matters. His attack on eleven-year-old Rose produces a son with the same piercing blue eyes as his father.

The decision by Henry’s parents, Jedidiah and Ruby, to take the child from Ruby and give him to the slave couple who run the main house, becomes a part of a legacy of racial mingling within the Rogers family even though that truth is not readily known at the time.

Many discoveries made in the Rogers family regarding racial identity come to the surface during one of the most trying phases in America’s history. As the Civil War jumps off, Henry discovers that Thaddeus has escaped from the planation to fight alongside the Confederate Army. While Henry is furious when he discovers Thaddeus, the slave boy eventually becomes responsible for saving the life of the father who will never accept him.

As the truth about his birth parents is revealed, Thaddeus finds himself falling deeply in love with Amy, the tomboy sister of Henry’s future wife. This love that will never be allowed to exist in peace in the racially divisive South flourishes despite this truth and becomes known and respected by the small, tight community of blacks and whites with connections to Moss Grove.
Eglash-Kosoff’s work brings to mind the historic novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in its depiction of slavery in Louisiana: the violent, often deadly punishment of blacks; the assumptions by so-called “good whites” that their slaves were happy and considered themselves apart of the plantation family; and the conflict that existed within the slave community regarding the uncertainty of freedom vs. the known evil that was slavery. Even more brilliant is the writer’s representation of blacks fighting in the civil war and the strides the formerly enslaved race made during the short period of reconstruction.

When Stars Align is a tale of slavery and freedom; horrendous violence and evolving love. It is a story of the worst and best of humanity. I highly recommend it. ( )
  MelissaBrownLevine | Jan 28, 2012 |
When Stars Align is an historical fiction set in the Confederate South.

Moss Grove, a cotton plantation, is owned by Jedidiah Rogers. He adores his wife, Ruby has a deteriorating relationship with his son, Henry, and his slaves are treated well. He has everything in life he needs and it is a good life until the day seventeen year old Henry rapes an eleven year old coloured girl in the fields, leaving her pregnant.

When Thaddeus is born, he is removed from Rose's hands and placed into the hands of the house slaves, Sarah and Jesse, who are childless. No one is to make mention of this day, nor the fact that Thaddeus' eyes are the same shade of blue as his fathers, nor that his skin is lighter than his "birth" parents, considerably lighter.

Along the way, we learn of the hardships of the Rogers family, their trials and tribulations. War is about to break out in the South, and Jedidiah is worried about the outcome. He knows that a lot of things are about to change and he is at a loss as to how to control the situation that fate has set before him.

We watch as Thaddeus grows and with that, his love for a red-headed white girl named Amy, whose older sister has married Henry. Theirs is a love that could never be, but times are changing. The North is about to win the freedom of the slaves and the future is about to change. No more answering to the white man as his master. However, even those things that are meant for good, often spawn evil, and with the black person's freedom, along come such atrocities as the Ku Klux Klan and the Jim Crow laws.

Many lives are entwined in this story of salvation as everyone works toward a future they believe would be best for all around.

I thought this was a very good historical book set in the confederate South. The author, Carole Eglash-Kosoff has caught the essence of the mind frame for this period in history remarkably. She wrote in such a way that at times I was outraged at the atrocities I was reading. She is able to draw from you the horror and the adversity that many people felt while living in this time. You could almost feel the old southern racism oozing from the pages, especially in the character of Henry. He is a nasty character and you cannot help but hate him from the onset. Your left to wonder, how such a incredibly unkind man could have ever been produced by such thoughtful and loving parents.

All the characters are rich and believable, bringing a depth to the story that will keep you wanting to know more as you watch their lives grow. One couldn't imagine the book without any of the characters involved, they belong in this story, giving the book, its breath.

The book is wrought with coarse language, heavy graphic nature and yes, the frequent use of the word, "nigger". However, none of that is written in an offensive way, just in a truthful way for the period in which the book was set. It works with the plot, giving you an in depth feel to the whole "ole south" mentality for the times. You also see how many people joined in with the confederates, not everyone wanted to run off to freedom. There are many free-born, mulattos, natives and black, who have sided with the South and you are given a glimpse into each of the thoughts and actions of each of the classes of people.

At times the writer drifted off given the reader a few mediocre fillers that I thought were unnecessary to the overall plot nor to build up suspense, however, you read through them quickly. It is a long read, over three hundred and fifty pages and the type is small, it is not a subject, nor a book, to take lightly, but it is definitely worth the read!! ( )
  MadMooseMama | Aug 3, 2011 |
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