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Getting along would be Heaven on Earth!

The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride is an engaging novel about a time where Blacks, whites and Jews coexisted in a small and mostly poor rural town in the early twentieth century. Each group comes with their own history, religion, biases and means of survival, and ultimately, they all depend on one another for their survival. It comes on the heels of his deeply moving and thought-provoking memoir, The Color of Water, which explores the complex themes of identity, race, and family, the story of James McBride's own upbringing as a biracial child in a racially divided America, and the life story of his remarkable mother. This book shows an interconnectedness and a dependency that few would admit to. It also gives us wonderful characters so full of love, care and compassion that you want to emulate them, and some so clueless you want to scream.

As the characters’ stories overlap, it becomes clear how much the people who live on the margins of white, Christian America, and Black America struggle and what they must do to survive. When the truth is finally revealed about what happened on Chicken Hill, as the town is called, and the part the town’s white establishment played in it, McBride shows us that even in dark times, it is love and community—heaven and earth—that sustain us. It feels like a hopeful read right now. I enjoyed it, and highly recommend it.

My book, Redeemed, A Memoir of a Stolen Childhood will be published June 25, 2024.

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