Ellen Feldman Scottsboro: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780393064902

Scottsboro: A Novel

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9780393064902: Scottsboro: A Novel
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A powerful novel about race, class, sex, and a lie that refused to die.

Alabama, 1931. A posse stops a freight train and arrests nine black youths. Their crime: fighting with white boys. Then two white girls emerge from another freight car, and fast as anyone can say Jim Crow, the cry of rape goes up. One of the girls sticks to her story. The other changes her tune, again and again. A young journalist, whose only connection to the incident is her overheated social conscience, fights to save the nine youths from the electric chair, redeem the girl who repents her lie, and make amends for her own past. Intertwining historical actors and fictional characters, stirring racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism into an explosive brew, Scottsboro is a novel of a shocking injustice that convulsed the nation and reverberated around the world, destroyed lives, forged careers, and brought out the worst and the best in the men and women who fought for the cause.

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About the Author:

Ellen Feldman is the author of the novels Lucy and The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank. She writes for the American Heritage Web site and is a sought-after speaker. She lives in New York.

From The Washington Post:

In her exhaustively researched novel Scottsboro, Ellen Feldman errs on the side of too much history. The book painstakingly recreates the infamous Scottsboro case, complete with all the twists and turns and society-exposing foibles. But, ironically, what it fails to do is make either the real or fictional characters come to life.

The Scottsboro Boys, as they were called, were nine black teens accused of gang-raping two white women on the Southern Railroad freight run to Memphis on March 25, 1931. Feldman tells their tale through Alice Whittier, a fictional, left-leaning white journalist for a socialist newspaper in New York.

Alice searches out one of the accusing women, a dirt-poor millworker named Ruby Bates. In real life, as in the book, Bates later recanted her accusations and traveled the country raising money for the teens' defense.

The heart of the novel should be the complex, evolving relationship between these women from very different worlds. But Ruby is just too simple -- or too simply depicted -- to carry the emotional weight of the book, while Alice is too busy dispensing facts about 1930s America to blossom as a character. Her motivations for pursuing Bates are touched upon only lightly, as are her feelings about events both political and personal, including whether or not to sleep with her boss.

Trying to pack so many stories into a relatively short novel means a few end up flattened. In one chapter, for instance, we hear from the mother of one of the accused teens. Hers is a tale of birthing babies and picking cotton, of submitting to rape by the white boss to keep him off her daughters and staying down on her knees in hopes of better times. It's not that these terrible things weren't realities for black women in 1930s Alabama, but piling them all onto Mrs. Norris makes her feel less like a real person than a racial representative.

Scottsboro rightfully seeks to remind Americans of a shameful moment in our history. Sometimes, though, history should be delivered straight.


Copyright 2008, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781447275343: Scottsboro (Picador Classic)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  1447275349 ISBN 13:  9781447275343
Publisher: Picador, 2015
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W. W. ..., 2009
Softcover

9780330456142: Scottsboro: A Novel

Picado..., 2009
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9780330456135: Scottsboro

PICADOR, 2008
Hardcover

9781444800036: Scottsboro: A Novel

Charnwood, 2010
Hardcover

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