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In the Shadow of Alabama by Judy Reene…

In the Shadow of Alabama (edition 2017)

by Judy Reene Singer (Author)

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Title:In the Shadow of Alabama
Authors:Judy Reene Singer (Author)
Info:Kensington (2017), 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Book group 2

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In the Shadow of Alabama by Judy Reene Singer



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In the Shadow of Alabama
By Judy Reene Singer
Narrated By Carol Monda
Published 2017 by Recorded Books
10 hours and 56 minutes

I received a free audio copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Rachel Fleischer, a middle-aged woman with emotional baggage and a troubled love-life, returns home to see her estranged father who is on his deathbed. At her father’s funeral, a stranger brings an unusual gift and an apology which sparks the beginning of Rachel’s journey towards discovering the truth about her father.

I immediately connected with Rachel. She is a strong, independent woman who runs a horse farm and is a successful writer in spite of having left home at 16 with no familial support. Her internal struggle between the desire to be a good daughter that is worthy of love and the overwhelming need to protect her heart from additional pain and rejection is raw and real. Rachel is searching for excuses for her father’s behavior—reasons that might allow her to forgive and move on. The more she learns about her father’s past, the more sympathetic she becomes toward her father.

This story alternates between present day and flashbacks to her father’s time as Sergeant Fleisher in the Army Air Force during WWII. Sergeant Fleisher was a Jewish soldier in charge of a troop of all black soldiers in 1940s Alabama. It becomes obvious to Rachel that her father’s experiences during his time as a soldier are directly responsible for the hard man Rachel knew as her father. I don’t think this knowledge was able to excuse his behavior, but it did lend an understanding that eventually allowed Rachel to move on with hope towards her future.

This book is a glowing example of literary fiction. The complex, well-developed characters made this story one to remember. My favorite character was Malachi, the 80-something farm manager. Everything about Malachi tugged on my heartstrings. I would love to see him get a book of his own to learn his backstory and what made him into the man he was. The writing style was also noteworthy and there were several profound ideas that made me wish for a highlighter and a physical copy to mark up.

This book was narrated by the talented Carol Monda. I will be adding her to my auto-buy narrator list. Her voice has a maturity and heaviness that complemented the serious subject matter. I really appreciated the inflections and emotion that she conveyed through her reading. Not only was she the perfect choice to tell Rachel’s story, but the multi-character performance of the soldiers was extraordinary. ( )
  cwhisenant11 | Oct 13, 2017 |
So, so much is right with this wonderful book, from the title, the inviting and gorgeous cover to the heartfelt story and amazing characters.Have adored horses since I was a preteen, and Rachel our main character is writer who also happens to raise and train horses on her very own ranch. The old man Malachi, who seems to have come with the property quickly won my heart, just adored this character.

Rachel's father is dying, she receives a call from her sister and though she does not have any fond memories of her father, nor feel much love for the man he was, guilt and responsibility wins the day. He subsequently dies, and a happening at his burial will have Rachel seeking answers and understanding for the man she felt she never knew. This quest will take her and us back t 1941, an army base in Alabama where her father was the Jewish lieutenant in charge of an all negro crew.

Racial prejucide and the treatment of blacks in the service, so awful how these men were treated. A man who cared so much for his men but coming from the North had little or no understanding of how things went in the South for blacks at this time. Experiences that scarred many for life, the effects of PTSD, and all around disillisionment with the human race, reflected in the treatment of family and friends. We meet a wonderful elderly black man who will tell Rachel her father's story and it is the realization of the man he was that propels Rachel to examine and make changes in her own life.

I loved the story before reading the acknowledgements, but after reading that this is basically her own father's story I realized why this story seemed so real, why the writing seemed so personal. A wonderful story about a heartbreaking time with serious repercussions.

ARC from Netgalley. ( )
  Beamis12 | Jun 11, 2017 |
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Rachel Fleischer returns home to visit her dying father despite their difficult relationship. After he dies during surgery, she receives a visit from a stranger and begins to learn her father's story.

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