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This side of the sky : a novel
Elyse Singleton
Adult Fiction SINGLETON

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From Publishers' Weekly:

This is a sprawling, ambitious saga about two women, lifelong friends, who live through World War II and its aftermath, and the men in their lives. That may sound overly familiar, but the novel offers a very important difference: the two women are black, from rural Mississippi; they spend the war as WACs in London and later in Europe and the lover of one of them is a thoroughly decent German prisoner of war sent to work in the fields in the Deep South. Lilian, the woman with the German lover, is very black, and also resolute and hard-working; her best friend from school days, Myraleen, is a light-skinned beauty who can, and often does, pass for white, and who is sharp, sardonic and unforgiving. Debut novelist Singleton has an economical, restrained style that is particularly effective in moments of high drama and wartime action, but which is otherwise a little laid back for the emotional punch her story often delivers and her chapters from the point of view of Kellner, the German POW, lack the conviction of the rest. Still, this is an often warming and poignant story of a seldom-visited side of the war, one that is well worth knowing. (Oct.) Forecast: BlueHen's program of discovery of new novelists has unearthed a writer whose book will certainly speak to black readers and should appeal to a range of white ones, too. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

This lengthy debut novel by an award-winning journalist tells the life story of two independent-minded black women, Lilian and Myraleen, who were born in the early 20th century in Mississippi, where "being poor in Nadir didn't mean being starved to death; it meant being worried to death." The two become close friends and eventually move away from the restricting Southern environment to Philadelphia, where they discover the veiled segregation of the North. They work at menial jobs, refuse offers of marriage, and enlist in the Women's Army Corps during World War II. Events such as the bombings of London and life in postwar Paris are presented from their unique perspective. Myraleen eventually becomes romantically involved with a black pilot, while, in an odd set of circumstances, Lilian pursues a German POW she befriended in Nadir. Although this book presents an informed glimpse of segregation before and during the war, the characters are never completely developed, and many events feel too contrived. All the facts are here but not enough of the feelings. An optional purchase. [This book is dedicated to librarians, specifically those at the Denver P.L.-Ed.]-David A. Beron, Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Lilian
African American
Hard-working; determined.

African American
Light-skinned; beautiful; Lilian's lifelong friend.

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