2 stars
the twelve mile straight
A disappointing book about prejudice and secrets in the deep south during the 1930’s.

This was our September book club selection. As you can see from the 2 star rating, I didn’t care for this book. It was over 200 pages too long and needed serious editing. While the topics were difficult and hard to read about, I’ve read similar books with no problems. In those books, the writing style was more accessible and the story flowed along. This book was a chore to read. The story bounced around from character to character and time period to time period. At times it was so confusing I had no idea what was going on. While not hugely graphic, the topics of rape, incest and lynching were just not handled well. Rather than having a deft touch about controversial issues, the writing style was clunky and a chore to read.

The book is set in 1930’s in Cotton County, Georgia. Two babies, one black and one white, are born to Elma Jessup, a young sharecroppers daughter. A field hand is accused of her rape and lynched. His body is tied to the back of a pickup truck and dragged down Twelve Mile Straight to the nearest town. In the aftermath of the killing, the Jessup family and other inhabitants of the small town must come to terms with the secrets they’ve kept, and deal with the damage left in their wake.

The book club’s consensus was that the book was not well written, and the topics were not dealt with appropriately. If the author is going to tackle a topic like Jim Crow laws and prejudice in the deep south a lot more research, and a defter touch in writing style, is needed. I recommend you skip this book and seek out better books on this topic.