One Night in Georgia

In August of 1968, after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., hope for racial equality in the United States seems naïve. One Night in Georgia by Celeste O. Norfleet demonstrates the humiliating effects of racism with the story of a drive through the South, where "the bones of men, women, and children long forgotten had been crushed and buried."

Three friends drive from Harlem to Spelman College in Atlanta for their senior year. Zelda is the daughter of an African American activist who was brutally murdered. She inherited his desire for revolution, saying, "Change only comes when we make it." Daphne, biracial, is deeply devout and conflicted about her place in the black community. Veronica's wealth buffers her from the overt discrimination experienced by others as dark as she. "Why do you always want to make it a war?" she asks Zelda. Escorting them is Daniel, a Vietnam veteran whose confidence makes him frightening to many white people he meets. Carrying the Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide to safe restaurants, gas stations and motels, they set out on what is meant to be a carefree adventure before they graduate. Ultimately, the trouble they try to avoid fractures their trip and changes their lives forever. The strength of this novel is the multi-faceted debate on how best to confront racism. Readers will enjoy a straightforward plot that moves quickly, with characters that understand "if we don't face our past, then we as a nation will surely repeat it." --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

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