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Hardcover Freshwater Road Book

ISBN: 1932841105

ISBN13: 9781932841107

Freshwater Road

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

The critically acclaimed debut novel from pioneering actress and writer Denise Nicholas tells the story of one young woman s coming of age via the political and social upheavals of the civil rights movement. Nineteen-year-old Celeste Tyree leaves Ann Arbor to go to Pineyville, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964 to help found a voter registration project as part of Freedom Summer. As the summer unfolds, she confronts not only the political realities...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

"Glorious and terrifying",

The story of a young black girl, Celeste Tyree, who leaves the comfort of her Detroit home to spend the summer of 1964, "Freedom Summer" in Mississippi, helping voter registration and teaching in the Freedom School, has been told by writer Denise Nicholas, with great drama and understanding of how to reel the reader in and keep him/her glued to the page. Freedom Summer is a part of all our history, black and white, and should not be forgotten by any of us. Nicholas uses the background of the fear and terror that faced the volunteers and the residents of the small town of Pineyville where she has been housed, along with describing Celeste's own changes in understanding who she is and her maturing during those turbulent weeks. The language is lyrical in the description of the beauty of the landscape, harrowing in its drama and totally rewarding in the storytelling. A must for all ages.

"Miss'sippi ain't nothing to play with."

Denise Nicholas sets her impressive debut novel in Mississippi during the summer of 1964, the Freedom Summer when civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner disappeared and were later found murdered. Although segregation and second-class citizenship for blacks had officially ended in the United States, little had changed in the Deep South. Celeste Tyree, a nineteen year old University of Michigan student, decides to volunteer for the One Man, One Vote movement despite the dangers. The office stations her in Pineyville, Mississippi, a town a few miles from the Louisiana border. There, she lives with Mrs. Owens, an older woman who helps Celeste learn the ways of Pineyville. With the help of the local black minister Reverend Singleton, Celeste begins the Freedom School to teach black history to the children and a voter registration class for the adults. Celeste finds herself immediately in danger, as whites and even some blacks are angered by her attempts to gain equal rights for the black citizens. Celeste takes to sleeping on the floor to avoid bullets fired through windows and to stepping off the sidewalk to let whites pass. Through all the danger and demeaning acts, Celeste perseveres. In the meantime, in Detroit, Celeste's father Shuck worries about his beloved daughter, for he knows the risks she faces. In the end, he can do nothing to protect his headstrong daughter. After all, she takes after her daddy, a "race man," who takes pride in who he is and is willing to fight for it. Nicholas, who starred in both "Room 222" and "In the Heat of the Night," proves that her talents run deeper than acting, as her solid, sometimes beautiful, writing evokes her subject matter with the same elegance and intelligence she brings to her roles. Most of her characters are complex and believable, and her plot unfolds with a natural storyteller's logic. Although the author occasionally founders by neglecting certain subplots and characters who seem destined to play major roles, the overall result far exceeds most first-time novels. Nicholas seamlessly weaves the history of the civil rights movement into the more intimate story of one young, idealistic woman alone in a strange, hostile place. This cross between commercial fiction and history lesson makes this novel an accessible and compelling entry into the black experience during the 1960's.

Coming of Age in Freedom Summer

This book by Denise Nicholas is a fictional account of a young college student's experience as a volunteer during Mississippi freedom summer in 1964. The book came highly recommended and I read it eagerly. I was most interested, and impressed in the very realistic way the author dealt with the subject of nonviolence during the civil rights movement. Throughout the book, Ms. Nicholas does a strong job of giving readers a sense of the oppressive climate of fear that permeates everything the heroine does while in Mississippi. From the reflections on the lynching that happenened a few years before in Pineyville, the town where she works, to the brutal beating she witnesses state troopers deal out to a fellow civil rights worker, she knows white on black violence is real and everywhere in Mississippi in 1964. Then when Goodman Schwerner and Chaney turn up dead, the threat becomes even more intense. The book's heroine, Celeste Tyree, certainly does face real danger and real fear during her summer in Pineyville, enough to question the value of nonviolence. But to me the story was a reminder of the great power the nonviolence of the civil rights movement had to move public sympathy and change the way the whole country looked at the oppression of blacks in the South. There was certainly violence and tragedy involved in the movement, and many people suffered in their struggle to gain their basic rights as citizens, but the nonviolent character of the movement prevented the situation from becoming much more confrontational and violent. Celeste also struggles with powerful family issues during her summer in Mississippi. In summary I highly recommend this powerful story of life inside the civil rights movement from someone who was there. It's amazing to believe that so many of the volunteers who made such a profound difference in American life were like Celeste Tyree, young people not even out of their teens.

Freshwater Road

Hallelujah! A great new writer has emerged like Venus from the forehead of Zeus. With Freshwater Road, Denise Nicholas takes the reader into the aorta of the heart of darkness called Mississippi, in the the time of apartheid America of 1964. Sometimes Faulknerian, sometimes Tolstoyian, sometimes Morrisonian, but always Nicholasonian, the author causes us to sweat when her heroine perspires; to grit our teeth and hold back curses at the easy hatred of some Southern whites; and to hum the beloved Freedom song, "Ain't nobody going to turn me around"as we turn the page to experience what folly or sorrow may be down the corridor in a dusty Southern courthouse. Ms. Nicholas knows more than fifty ways to describe the constant, tyrannical heat of a deep Southern summer. The reader becomes nineteen again, feeling the conflicted thoughts of a mercurial teenager on the cusp of becoming a determined young woman. In this recounting of one girl's coming to grips with what it means to be black in America, in a place which seldom had black people's interest at heart, and at a time when repressing black people and sometimes easily murdering them rarely made the eleven o'clock editions of either the local or national news, the author reminds us of the exquisite grace and incredible resilience of the young people who came to Mississippi to fight the good fight. With humor and incisiveness Nicholas paints a picture of the dignity and courage of the local residents who joined with the "outsiders" to march, to got to jail and to die, to bring to black, disenfranchised Americans the Constitutional right to vote. Intertwined with the heroine's story of finding her place in the Civil Rights struggle, is the chronicle of a girl facing grown-up dilemmas for the first time, none the least of which involve her own identity, class and color issues,and how to make the best life for herself. Freshwater road is an evocative and powerful story of a sea change in American history. Its unforgettable images will provoke, enchant and linger long after the last word on the last page is read.

You'll wish you knew Celeste Tyree...

... and this book really is Celeste's story. As a young woman struggling with self-image and the very essence of her sense of self, Celeste sets off from cushy Ann Arbor to register Negros to vote in rural Mississippi during "Freedom Summer" in 1964. Life is shockingly tough in these parts, and you'll wince with pain as gunfire rings out, and innocent people are beaten or killed. But you'll also smile with pleasure as Celeste's fighter spirit endures the never-ending heat, and battles not only for equal treatment of her fellow man, but for her self esteem, too. Ms. Nicholas' descriptive sentences remind me a little bit of Pat Conroy's ability to bring the reader into the character's setting. Her vocabulary and the dialogue is captivating; this novel is a reader's read, not just fluff. While Freshwater Road is a coming of age story, it also provides an historical look into troublesome part of America's past. I'd definitely recommend this novel - and I'm already looking forward to Ms. Nicholas' next one!
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