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When Stars Rain Down

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Member Reviews

It’s 1936 Georgia, and seventeen-year-old Opal Pruitt works alongside her Granny Birdie as cook and housekeeper for Miss Peggy and her family—her daughter, Miss Corinne, and her college-age grandson, Jimmy Earl. She even has a crush on Jimmy Earl, but he is white and lives in Parsons while she is colored and lives three miles away, in Colored Town.

Jimmy warns Granny Birdie that the Ku Klux Klan will be “visiting” Colored Town. Some think the best response is to stay inside, while others believe they should fight. As When Stars Rain Down shows, both answers have merit … and both answers have issues.

Yes, When Stars Rain Down is a novel about racists and racism. The author has a strong voice that brings out the difference between the characters in a way that feels natural yet is still easy to read, despite the difficult subject matter. We need more novels like this to be published and read. In particular, we need more novels from own voices or BIPOC authors … authors who have lived these experiences and can share their own feelings and reactions. As Opal says:

"I didn’t want to hear another voice of another white person try to tell me my feelings weren’t mine to feel."

It’s not always an easy read, but it’s also not easy to stop reading. It’s a compelling read that shows some of the difficulties of being born Colored in the South in a when the Ku Klux Klan were openly active, when everyone knew who hid under the masks but no one did anything. Mostly.

It would be nice to think these kind of activities have been relegated to victory, but as I write this review, a white teenager has just livestreamed himself opening fire in a supermarket and killing ten Black people. The Ku Klux Klan may not exist in the same way as they did in 1930s Georgia, but the attitudes haven’t changed and the violence has only become worse.

But the novel is also uplifting, particularly as Opal, her grandmother, and many other residents of Colored Town show and life their Christian faith. Recommended.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing an ebook for review.
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This was an amazing read! My first book by this author, but certainly not my last. I was caught up on each paragraph, every sentence, as Opal went through her day to day life and faced things most of us cannot even fathom. I'm so glad I found this one, it was a very enjoyable experience 💯

Thanks netgalley for giving me the advanced pdf so that I can share my thoughts and opinions with y'all 🧡
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I received an advanced digital copy of this book from the author, publisher and Thanks to all for the opportunity to read and review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

When the Stars Rain Down is a great read. Well thought out and realistic characters are emotionally engaging.

4 out of 5 stars.
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This was a lovely story of family and community supporting one other through good times and bad. This book beautifully narrated complex race relation issues, young love, and the push and pull of family dynamics that makes growing up so wonderful and frustrating at the same time. I could see all ages enjoying this book, but especially late high school teens/young adults as they emotions captured here are so present in their lives even if circumstance is different. Thanks to netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Well written, well performed in audio. Engaging and engrossing from the beginning! 

I read this book immediately after reading another historical despite typically taking a break from the traumatic retelling of the violence of our past. I expected a level of sadness and grisly detail that did not surface, and I was happy about that. I don't see a need to get explicit- we all understand that there was- putting it lightly hostility between free Black people and those who prefer to travel in the dead of night in hoods. I was almost ready to DNF if Brown was going to take us down the path of falling for a character who had Klan relatives, but I assure, that is not the direction this book takes.

Like the last book I read, this book doesn't leave you downtrodden with pounds of trauma on your shoulders to carry around- it ends with hope and happiness, despite the violent actions within the chapters. There is a beautiful love story (if a little corny) and a tale of hope and triumph amidst a tumultuous time in history. 

Highly recommend the audiobook. I waited for that to come out after reading half of it in an eBook. Sometimes, I just like to hear the voices.
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I'd like to start this review by saying what a beautiful and inviting cover. What a gut-wrenching book this is. I absolutely loved the setting in mid-1930’s Georgia and I found it to be well-paced and so beautifully written. I do love an emotional read and I found this to be such a book with a thought-provoking plot as well. At first, I thought that the religious aspects of the book might turn some people off, but as I read the story, I decided that it wasn’t written in such a way that it would. 
Opal is the MC and she is a young black girl living in a time of fear with the KKK being so active in its hatred and acts of intimidation and violence against black people. Even though this book is set in the 1930’s in Georgia, the racism of the time definitely creates thought-provoking questions for this day and time. Sadly, racism does still exist. It isn’t “just racism of whites towards blacks” but racism of all types of races against other races. I wish I had the power to end it for once and for all. And even though this book doesn’t end it erasing racism, its ending is most definitely satisfying (at least to this reader).

I would like to thank NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for an e-ARC of this book by Angela Jackson-Brown in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I adore historical fiction, and this is such an interesting premise. I recommend because of the story itself, writing style, and its ability to transport you into a different world/time period.
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Sometimes you read a book and you know you came away with something big. When Stars Fall Down was such a beautiful, heartwrenching surprise for me. I thought I knew the narrative, I thought I could look down the line and see where the plot and protagonist were going, but I was wrong and the lesson that gave me is a deep one. 

Opal is a fantastic main character to show this story. She really grows into both her internal and external voice as she comes of age and her small pocket of the world begins to morph before her eyes. She grows stronger in many ways, she changes her opinion of things, and she comes out the other side so full and steadfast (in a time of her life that could've crushed her). I found her inspiring. 

Granny/Birdie of course deserves her own mention and truly every named character, good and not, leaves an impression on the story. Cedric's desire for growth, the uncles' protectiveness, Jimmy Earl's cowardice, Opal's whole community, they all shine a different light on the situation than I expected and it really enhanced the plot. The story itself keeps you drawn in with these characters. It's a very thoughtful story; you'll find yourself thinking about it when you aren't reading. 

There is a warning here: this book will break something in you. It has absolutely gorgeous moments, moments of real love and brightness (especially when the whole family is around or when Opal gets her brief moments of levity), but life wasn't light in places like 1930s Georgia if you weren't white. There's a lot of pain and struggle in this story and it's truthful. This story is honest and that makes it one that will last in my opinion. 

I will say that while I enjoyed the entire book, the ending really is what solidified this book for me. I won't give spoilers but I think Jackson-Brown nailed the heart of it. Opal ends up exactly where she should, where it makes sense for her both historically and from a character-growth standpoint. Though my heart was broken by what came before, I was happy for her. In my imagination she lives as happily as she could've and I'm thankful to the author for that. 

I recommend this novel without a single reservation. In fact, I think it's a rather important story to read and I'd challenge others to pick it up. If the story goes differently than you expected/wanted, examine that and determine why you think that. You might just learn something about yourself. 

Note: I received a free electronic edition of this book via NetGalley in exchange for the honest review above. I would like to thank them, the publisher, and the author for the opportunity to do so.
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18-year-old Opal is a young Black woman working as a housekeeper in a small Southern town in the 1930s—and then the Klan descends. A moving story that confronts America’s tragic past, When Stars Rain Down is both heartwarming and heart-wrenching.

This novel covers so many issues that it makes it a must read on my recommendations list to friends and family. The author tells this story with authenticity and intelligence. This is a story that will stay with you long after it has been read.
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1930s Parson, Georgia, a town that is racially separated with blacks living in a section aptly named Colored Town. Seventeen year old Opal Pruitt lives with her Grandma Birdie after her mother abandoned her. Opal and her grandmother work as domestics for Miss Peggy.  Miss Peggy and Grandma Birdie are more like friends than employer/employee but they both understood the context that race plays in their relationship.  Regardless, Miss Peggy's family, her daughter and grandson, Jimmy Earl have always treated Opal and Miss Birdie like family.  Opal is looking forward to her 18th birthday and the town's annual Founders Day.  Jimmy Earl is home during the summer on a break from college. Opal is conflicted by the feelings that being in his presence evoke.  She is also interested in the Pastor's handsome son, Cedric who has dreams of one day playing with the Negro Baseball team.  

Jimmy Earl has a cousin, Skeeter, who openly displays his racist feelings towards blacks. As a member of the Klan, he led a raid on Colored Town which left destruction and devastation, but no lives were lost. The men of Colored Town met to determine how they can protect their loved one and possessions. Deciding to give the new sheriff a chance to back up his claim of being there to help the colored residents of Parson.  Weeks leading up to Founder's Day, Opal began to realize despite the fact that Miss Peggy's family were accepting of her and her grandmother, racial relations are very fragile and her friendship with Jimmy Earl is limited. She finds herself the victim of a physical attack that left her with head trauma.  When she is able to remember the details of the attacker and her attacker, it is only a matter of time before it all comes to a head with disastrous consequences. 

I love historical fiction from this era.  Jackson-Brown’s depiction of this small town included race relations, familial love and coming of age romance.  Although there are very intense moments, the tone of the book was not heavy or traumatic.  Filled with secondary characters that added additional layers to the book, WHEN STARS RAIN DOWN is one to savor.
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A coming of age story that also focuses on what it like to be a black woman in 1930s Georgia and the racism that goes along with that.
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"I wanted to hear the voice of a Colored woman who reminded me in some ways of my granny. I wanted the comfort of blackness, not the choking sensation that whiteness made me feel."

This is such a powerful book. Reading about the 1930's through the eyes of a black girl in Georgia was eye opening. I would not call this an easy book since it tackles racism and subsequent mistreatment. But the characters are so compelling that they draw you into the story - even those people you do not want to like.

Looking at life through another person's eyes brings the story to life. I am glad that the book is only told from Opal's perspective - a 17 year old black servant. Others add their opinions, but her thoughts are what help the reader to understand the situations. One cannot help but appreciate a hard working, loyal young lady who is simply trying to find her place in the world.

I liked the historic element - how the book was connected to real life situations. I really liked how a famous baseball player and his wife played cameo roles. Separation did happen at one time, and I liked how they both stepped forward to make a difference.

This was real life almost 100 years ago - we need to understand, so that racism does not keep happening. I appreciated the strong families and communities that were portrayed - Opal knew that she was loved. There is so much that I could mention that I liked about this book, but I do not want to spoil any of the plot.

I could identify the most with Lori Beth - a white girl who truly wants to be friends and wants to make a positive difference. The problem is that she is not really willing to listen. She has ideas that she is convinced will help. But when Opal and Granny try to tell her that her idea was more hurtful than helpful, she proceeded forward anyway. That can definitely be me. I think I have the right idea, but I think I understand situations that I will never completely relate to because I am white.

Overall I LOVED the book and feel like I could recommend it. But there is one key component that overrides all of the good - the element of faith. Particularly what Granny calls "hodoo." A healer plays a part in this storyline. Largely she is misunderstood and does seem to actually believe in the God of the Bible. And I did not mind some of the "potions" that she handed out as the connection to medicinal herbs from Africa added to the heritage part of the story.

BUT the characters are encouraged to trust in those compounds and in trinkets. It is implied that trusting God will not completely save you - something extra is needed. Opal despairs because she thinks she could have avoided a tragic situation if she would have gone a different direction with a particular pouch that would provided protection.

This is only one element that takes away from an overall well-written book. But to me, I ultimately decided that it is a big one. I still recommend this book, and I am definitely glad that I read it. But readers, especially Christians, need to recognize in advance that the "trust in God to save you" is a bit muddy since other factors are also encouraged. My final rating on this one, simply because of the faith factor, is 3.8 stars. The rest of the book deserves a 5 star rating, but I can't give it that due to the fact that I think this fictional title's emphasis on "hodoo" could draw the reader away from understanding the need to trust in God.
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I received an advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my review. 

I want to give When Stars Rain Down 4 1/2 stars. It tells the story of Opal Pruitt and her granny, in 1930s Georgia. Both women help with cooking and cleaning at a white family’s home, and navigate the daily transition from Colored Town to the white side of town and back. Friends fill different roles depending on their race, even between those who grew up together. 

Opal is turning 18 and beginning to see the men in her life in a new light. When she is attacked walking home from work, racial tensions start to boil over, culminating in the main action of the story. I don’t want to give away the story, but suffice to say I was all in as I read!

I was absorbed in the story early on. The characters are relatable and fully developed. I recommend this book.
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When Stars Rain Down gets 5 stars from me.  I’d never heard of this book or author until I got a chance to get a copy to read and review and found I really loved it.  The story set in a small southern town in the 1930s is engrossing and focuses on a short period of time in the life of 17-year-old Opal and her family.  It felt authentic and I had to remind myself that this was fiction and the characters were not real.  Black and white race relations is a main topic in this story in a way that I believe is realistic without being stereotypical – and without painting every character as strictly good or bad. I appreciated that it had a solid story arc with a satisfying ending but did not manufacture improbable events for either the conflict or the ending.  I liked that going to church was a part of the story and not in a way that was either preachy or stereotypical.  The author also pulls in a few Bible verses that are a natural part of conversations in the story – again, not preachy.  The young protagonist struggles with why God lets bad things happen and gets advice and consolation from three different older women in her life that while we don’t always understand, God is still there. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for a copy to read and review.  This book was released earlier this year (2021).
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This book started out really well, but unfortunately, it went downhill midway through--and stayed there the rest of the read.

I was particularly disturbed by some of the comments and beliefs presented by Miss Lovenia. I kept thinking and hoping they would be addressed later in the book; unfortunately, they never were, and often came across as presenting Christianity and "hoodoo" as being on equal footing--not at all the case. Very disappointing and problematic, especially when published by a Christian publishing house. (Be sure to check out the 2- and 3-star Goodreads reviews, which lay it out much more specifically and eloquently.)

A couple subplots (most notably, for me, Opal and Jimmy Earl--but also even the race relations, a huge part of the setting!) also started out so promising, but also fizzled and went without satisfactory resolution. The second half of the book, as other reviewers note, spent much more time on Opal's internal monologue than on initially-introduced plot points/furthering or character development.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Excellent,excellent Southern historical fiction.
The 1930's is not an easy time for anyone but especially the colored folks in Parsons, Georgia.
It's an unbearably hot summer and folks are just trying to make it through the best they can especially Opal Pruitt, a young black woman working as a housekeeper, coming of age during a very turbulent time.
She lives with her granny , a very religious woman who keeps her in line. I loved granny's character the most . She is an incredibly strong willed and religious woman that everyone has a tremendous amount of respect for.
The book is so heartwarming yet heartbreaking at the same time.
The black family unit in this book is so strong, very protective of each other. Very religious.
Change is coming though, the Klan is moving in and these innocent people are right in their path though they've minded their own business and done nothing to provoke it.
It's sad to see how many years have passed in time and how the unjust behavior continues to this day, and we call ourselves progressive?
Though this book takes place in the 1930's these subjects are still relevant today.
It's a haunting read with it's tragedies but very realistic . When will we realize this behavior benefits no one and needs to change?
Excellent book I recommend to you!

Pub Date 13 Apr 2021
I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you.
All opinions expressed are my own.
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Due to content I do not approve of or like I will not read this book completely or review it.

I am saddened by this as I highly looked forward to reading it.
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#1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You’ll be here awhile.
#2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which may mean some spoilers, so watch out.

Stars: 2.5

Synopsis: Opal Pruitt is on the cusp of womanhood in a small Georgia town in the year 1936. And although her life is fraught with trials, tribulations, new love, and loss, she learns to find hope in the darkness.

Favorite Quotes: “No, we don’t have to fear because we know that as the devil rides the highways and the byways tonight, we’ve got a God that sits high and looks low.”

“[C]hoose wisely. Choose prayerfully. Don’t let your feelings overrule your common sense.”

One part of me liked this book. The other part hated it. One part enjoyed the story. The other part was loath to turn another page (figuratively speaking; I read this on my Kindle). For some reason, I feel as those my negative opinions should cancel out the positive ones or vice versa—as if I can’t like or appreciate some aspects of the novel and yet be disappointed in others.

Don’t ask why; that’s just how I feel after reading When Stars Rain Down.

I make it a point not to read books about racism. And I’m not talking just nonfiction, I’m talking fiction with a main focus on racism. I just...I can’t stomach it, what with all that’s going on in the world right now.

So I have no idea what possessed me to read When Stars Rain Down. But I did. And here we are. Even though I felt almost depressed when I finished it, I’m glad I read it, if only to gain some insight on what critical race theory would mean for our lives and perceptions.

Let me explain…

For the first half or so, I enjoyed this book. Opal was a fairly steady heroine who knew her own mind, didn’t act out of turn, and was sweet and caring. I appreciated that. Most heroines these days are (1) deserving of a name I won’t call them, (2) whiny, and (3) disrespectful. Having a heroine like Opal was a refresher, it truly was.

Jackson-Brown’s writing was pretty good too—easy to follow, but also possessing a unique flow and cadence that fit Opal’s voice. Plus there was nothing technically wrong with it.

To top it all off, Cedric was...concerning at first (call me grandma, but I’m always concerned about the boys), but truly quite charming.

So what was wrong with it? Why did I come away feeling emotional drained and distressed?

I could come up with a myriad of technical reasons about pacing and plot and boring mumbo-jumbo like that, but to be honest? It all boils down to one thing: perspective. Or, to clarify, how Lovenia’s witchcraft was presented and perceived; and how I had hoped for a much better ending.

First things first, I am one of those. Not a hippie or a liberal...just one of those people who believe in God’s definition of race. And, in case you’re wondering, God’s definition of race has nothing to do with skin color—it’s all about the human race as a whole and, of course, running your race as a Christian. That’s all that matters in His eyes.

So, yes, I was put off by how much this novel reeked of the critical race theory. Sorry (not sorry), but I don’t believe a word of that. Racism is not ingrained in white people’s DNA, and it is certainly not a mindset you’re born with. (Trust me, I’m white. I would know.) Racism should not be racist. What do I mean by that? I mean that racism, like anything else, doesn’t just apply to whites being prejudiced against blacks. Racism is double-sided, and it applies to other races. For example, Jews and Samaritans or Romans and Britons. The moment you confine racism or sexism or even slavery to just one race, you invent an oxymoron and redefine not only the term but also its application and historical use, if that make sense.

Which, as much as that gets on my nerves, is not the subject of this review. *sighs* I can never keep my thoughts straight.

The point is to give you a little bit of background on why I was so confused by the “message” and the ending of this story.

And also to explain why I was a teensy bit disappointed that Opal didn’t end up with Jimmy Earl. I mean, come on. Wouldn’t it have been a beautiful story of equality and love if they had gotten married?

Well, they didn’t. And because of that, Jimmy Earl and Opal’s possible romance really had no purpose in this story, as another reviewer mentioned, making his character and that whole subplot seem very shallow.

You know, that was another thing I didn’t understand. Shouldn’t this have been a story of equality? A story of hope? A story of love? A story of God’s love and faithfulness towards us? I know that maybe that’s too sweet and fairy-tale-like, but even if Jackson-Brown simply gave Opal that fighting spirit and craving for something more (whether she gained it or not), I would have been satisfied.

Instead, this was a story of darkness, anger, confusion, and witchcraft. Certainly not what I wanted to be reading after living out the year of 2020, am I right?

Speaking of witchcraft...I am extremely disappointed in Thomas Nelson for publishing something so...well, witchy. You see, I have no problem with accurately portraying the black magic Africans practiced and how it bled into African-American culture. That’s history. That’s reality. It’s evil, yeah, but also true. However (there’s always a however)...Jackson-Brown went way too far. Instead of depicting witchcraft as wrong and a tool of Satan, it was sugar-coated and eventually passed off as okay.

Not okay, you guys. Not okay.

From the moment Opal met Lovenia, she knew witchcraft was wicked and something to avoid (not to mention, really, really freaky). But, more and more, she was pulled into its grasp and away from God. And there was no conviction, no turn-around, no restoration, no reconciliation. She just kept on going.

I’m sorry, but I don’t find that entertaining. I find it revolting and absolutely heartbreaking.

To be honest, a lot of this story broke my heart. And a lot of it entertained me. It was such a strange mix that I don’t really know what to think. I liked Opal—I really did. And I liked what Jackson-Brown had going on in the beginning—Opal seeing white people differently than other blacks did, and establishing meaningful relationships with other people, and presenting a new perspective on life in that era. But the farther I read, the worse it grew. Jackson-Brown seemed to depart from these themes and storyline and really confused me. I’m still not sure what exactly the purpose of this novel was, how Opal’s character positively changed, and what message the author entwined.

I’ll put it like this: I had a lot of potential. And I mean, a lot. For Little Miss No-Racism-Books to say that, that means a great deal, believe me.

But somewhere along the way, it lost it. Instead of portraying God’s love and redemptive power, witchcraft stole the show. Instead of depicting the growth of a girl into a loving, welcoming young woman who fought for justice, Opal seemed complacent—if not even somewhat bitter. Instead of leaving me satisfied and inspired, I felt empty and hollow after reading.

And maybe that was the point. Maybe the trend with fiction now is to depress readers and show them “the dark side.” In some ways, I can understand that. But giving the devil free advertising...wasting time and effort reading and writing stories with no hope...that’s not the purpose of writing. It never was, and I can tell you that so many of the greats would be appalled to see their beloved fiction maligned in such a way.

I want to read something that shows me God’s glory, that fills me with hope, that inspires me to become a better person, that—even with all the darkness and sad truth of our sinful world—there is a brighter tomorrow.

Unfortunately, When Stars Rain Down was not it.

Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
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there are many things that initially intrigued me about this book, being a historical fiction with commentary on family, racism and more in the 1930's. the story and characters felt underdeveloped, including the romance sub-plot which was too insta-lovey for me. the writing is good, i would read more of this author if they come out with some more concise and developed.

- thanks to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with the digital arc in exchange for an honest review.
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One of the wonderful things about great fiction is that it allows you to see the world through someone else’s eyes in a way that few other experiences can. Angela Jackson-Brown’s When Stars Rain Down is just such a book, and should be required reading for every American. But it’s not just a great book about race and the challenges faced by Black Americans both then and now, it’s a great coming-of-age story for anyone.

However, I’m going to talk mostly about the first part, about how When Stars Rain Down gave me new ideas, contexts, and imaginative reframings about being Black in the South. The lyrical ode to Colored Town was a perspective changer, as the protagonist, Opal Pruitt, doesn’t see it as exclusion but as a retreat from the demands of Jim Crow, even though the woman she works for, and her household, are “good” white people.

This is one of the questions Opal has to answer for herself: are there actually any whites who will choose right over white when the issue involves a Black person? The illustration of the well-meaning white girl trying to help but not listening is a lesson for anyone who hasn’t lived the life of the protagonists but thinks she knows best how to help.

I’m not sure there’s a single movie that captured for me the visceral sense of waiting for the Klan to strike like this lovely book. The oppressive environment, the strain of the impending raid, the deep internal struggles of how best to deal with the Klan, the fear of both what the Klan might do and how to limit repercussions of how the Black community responds to the Klan: all of these are given visceral reality.

The cameo appearance by Satchel Paige was a fun addition, giving a glimpse of how important these early barrier-busting athletes and were to their communities. Jackson-Brown’s use of concrete details makes him (and, indeed, all of the characters) breathe on the page.

Although the book echoes issues and attitudes still with us to this day, it is firmly situated in the period. When Stars Rain Down presents the world of Black Southerners living in the Jim Crow era unflinchingly, showing both the joy and pain of that life, offering no easy answers, but illustrating the reach of history.
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