Monday, September 30, 2019

One Night in Georgia by Celeste O. Norfleet

Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pages: 304 pages
Published: June 2019 

Shortly after I read One Day in December, I stumbled upon One Night in Georgia and the juxtaposition of the titles made me smile. The synopsis of latter made me want to read it. The novel is set in the late 60s where the black is beautiful and Civil Rights Movements are in full bloom. The main character, Zelda, meets up with her college friends and sorority sisters, Veronica and Daphne, near the end of summer to drive from New York to Georgia where they will resume their college education at Spelman University. They meet up with family friend*, Daniel, who escorts them on this tumultuous trip that includes several episodes of racism, terrifying encounters with the police, and some fun and excitement. However, the tone of the book foreshadows a pivotal event that changes the lives of the college students forever.

At just a little over 300 pages, this book is not overwhelming. It actually reads much faster that one might expect. I enjoyed taking a peek back in history through Norfleet's eyes of this time period. It was an important one for African Americans, and the first part of the novel was spot on in capturing the time period, retelling actual events that occurred, and illustrating similar events through fiction. However, about halfway through the book, it changes from a study of the African American condition to a kind of cheesy love story which later evolved into some 50 shades-type prose, and the ending just fell flat for me.

I was hoping for better character development and resolution of the major issues presented like Zelda's relations with her mother, and the relationship between both of them and her stepfather. I wanted more of a conclusion about how Zelda could begin healing from her father's death. The other friends, who had major roles in the story, had their endings wrapped up much too quickly in a few sentences without really dealing with the heavy issues (arranged marriage, sexual assault, biracial identity) they were tackling. Overall, I felt like Norfleet took the easy way out with the ending and left too many other issues up in the air. What began as a driving and intriguing story quickly lost its power and effect.

Recommendation Even though this was a quick read, I would not recommend this one. There are other books that deal with some of the major issues in this book in a more effective way. And maybe that was the problem, the author tried to cram too much into one story and didn't know how to synthesize it all. So disappointed!

*The Goodreads synopsis says Daniel is a family friend of Veronica, but I am certain he was a family friend by way of Zelda. I'm not sure if this the publisher's error or an error on the part of Goodreads.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


Post a Comment