Member Reviews

An enveloping read about Washington DC in 1948. The story revolves around a love that would never pass intense scrutiny between Courtland and Eva. I knew the relationship was doomed and held my breath repeatedly, waiting to see how it would come to pass.
I didn’t really like Courtland. He was all over the place and I thought he was selfish. I felt as if he wasn’t listening to Eva and railroaded his wants on her.
Eva is left to pick up,the pieces, with lasting ramifications.

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A decent debut. I loved the set up- courtland and Eva are great characters. There was something with the writing though that kept me from being totally immersed. I’d try this author again though

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Angela Jackson Brown’s The Light Always Breaks is set in 1940s Washington, D.C. yet (unfortunately, angrily) much of the discourse is still relevant today.

Eva Cardon is a successful restaurant owner. This would be impressive on its own, but she’s also only 24, Black, and it’s 1948. She’s using her exceptional business prowess to help feed the Civil Rights movement, metaphorically and literally, when she finds herself pulled towards Courtland Hardiman Kingsley IV, Georgia’s young hotshot Senator who is already testing the patience of the South with his liberal leanings. Love between them is more than complicated– it could ruin both of them and endanger their families.

This heart-wrenching tale is told in both Eva and Courtland’s point of view, giving insight into both characters. As with all of Angela Jackson Brown’s novels, each character is intricately developed. The secondary characters are just as well developed as the main players, including those only present in a few scenes.

Several real life historical figures are included, including Representative Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Hazel Scott, and many other prominent figures of the 1940s political and musical landscape.

One detail I adored in this novel is the relationship Eva shares with her sister. Though they disagree on the best path to equality and on the type of life each wants to lead, they are still there for one another with such tender love. Though their family isn’t perfect, nor are they claiming to be, they are each a shining example of loving someone right where they are.

The tone and voice of this book matches the formality of the time. This, combined with the fantastic setting and gorgeous fashion descriptions, root the reader in the historical time and place the book is set. Historical fiction can be tricky in this way, and Jackson Brown seamlessly draws the reader into the time, and keeps them there without the details ever getting distracting.

The character of Eva is certainly one of my personal favorites, and I particularly love how intersectionality she is. Eva is not only actively fighting for racial equality but also standing up for herself and her fellow women. One of my favorite scenes is when her restaurant is hosting a plethora of strong leaders, and she’s singled out as ‘not like other women.’ Instead of leaning into this, she says in reply:

“Well, maybe if you menfolk would actually engage in dialogue with your wives, mothers, and sisters, you would find that they are more than just pretty armpieces…I believe there are more women like me than any of you can imagine, many of whom are sitting across the room, banished from being part of this conversation. Women with careers that would be just as illustrious as yours if they shared your XY chromosomes.”

I cheered out loud the first time I read that passage. Eva has both the skills and the fire to stand up for what’s right, which makes her a fierce advocate. Just a few pages earlier, she had noted the way the men excluded the women from the discussion, “Eva could tell that the women were not pleased to be segregated from the men’s discussion, but Eva knew this was not something that was unusual. As much as the Negro men railed against segregation that was created and supported by white folks, they did not hesitate to do their own version of it against their own women– women who often did more work and raised more money to push the agenda of civil rights than the men.” This is just one of many scenes where Jackson Brown really shows how women were, and still are, vital to political and social movements of the times.

This novel has so much packed into it, from relevant historical information to a love story to portraying a beautiful, loving family to showing the chokehold of overt and systemic racism. There is also a special nod for fans of When Stars Rain Down, as several characters are mentioned and even have a small role in this novel.

Stay tuned to this page for an interview with the author of The Light Always Breaks, Angela Jackson Brown!

Thank you to Angela Jackson Brown, Harper Muse, and NetGalley. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Light Always Breaks will be available on July 5, 2022.

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I found this book to be very slow and the writing very simplistic. The pacing seemed to operate on one level throughout and to me, lacked emotion and heart. Did not keep my interest and I found myself skim reading some pages. 2.5 stars.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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That Eva and Courtland even meet in 1947 Washington is surprising to both of them but then they fall in love. Eva, who owns a restaurant and Courtland, a Senator from Georgia come from vastly different backgrounds but they have a common goal of desegregation. Their love is dangerous as is their activism but that doesn't stop them. This would have benefited from another edit to tighten it (there is, as others have noted, repetition) and to polish the dialogue. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. This has great atmospherics and is an interesting look at interracial love affairs during the period.

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5 stars for this remarkable read!
This book is a fabulous read. It’s part love story, part education and introduction into the post-war era, including the implications and consequences of systemic racism.

Eva and Courtland fall in love in the late 1940’s in Washington, DC during the time of Jim Crow laws. These institutionalized laws embedded racism and white supremacy into every system from educational institutions to economic, social and political. Jackson-Brown’s characters bring all of this to light through their actions, their wants, needs and loves. In this novel we watch an entrepreneurial black women and a white, affluent, southern senator fall hopelessly in love.

Angela Jackson-Brown does these topics justice with her easy prose and heartbreaking plot. We, the reader, can feel the generational trauma caused by racism and white supremacy. Jackson-Brown does not shy away from important issues like colourism, white guilt, white privilege and the importance of taking a stand and using your power for good. As a reader, I heard her words and took them to heart. She writes, “If those of us with power don’t do something with it, we might as well not have it.” These words resonate just as relevant for me today as they did for her characters in 1948.

Interwoven throughout the love story we see how interracial dating was so very dangerous for Eva and Courtland. We watch helplessly as society and powerful family members line up in dissent. In this novel, some police members played a sinister role and one could see parallels between 2022 and 1948 in this respect. Reading about Courtland struggling to stand up against lynching black lives while weighing his career options, as he bemoaned the tenuous position it was putting him, in made me feel all the feelings of anger toward him.

This book asks us, the reader, to not only become invested in the characters’ success, but also asks the bigger questions. I am left with questions like ‘how am I using my power in ways that dismantle oppressive systems and institutions?’

Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. I would like to purchase this book so I can read her afterword which didn’t make it into the ARC. Thanks to the author for this powerful read.

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I went into this with high hopes based on the blurb, but found it was just OK. I liked it enough to finish it. This is marketed as "historical fiction / romance" but I can't say it worked well for me as either historical fiction or romance. On the historical front, there were too many times I found myself being pulled out of the narrative to ask "does that actually make sense for this era?" And I think any time you are interweaving fictional characters with real famous historical people, it's a tightrope walk. On the romance front, I didn't buy in to the insta-love between Eva and Courtland. There wasn't enough substance there for me to feel invested in the many subsequent pages re-hashing how impossible a relationship would be, nor the choices Eva and Courtland made.

I think I might have liked this better if it simply focused on Eva as a single-by-choice, Black entrepreneur in this era.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC in exchange for my honest review.

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I love historical fiction - and I love historical fiction with empowered and representative characters even more. The Light Always Breaks was a delicious read that I couldn't put down. Eva and Courtland's story is dynamic and REAL, even more moving with the context of time and today's world.

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Heartbreakingly beautiful!

The story of a love that could never be, Angela Jackson- Brown beautifully captured the struggles an interracial couple endured during 1947 in The Light Always Breaks.

Eva and Courtland’s story is one of my favorites this year. Even as it became glaringly obvious their love was doomed, I found myself holding out hope that they would beat the odds. The two were robbed of a once in a lifetime love story due to America’s racial bias.

As someone who does not read a lot of historical fiction I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed this story. I loved the tie in of real people (political and musical). It definitely gave an added layer of reality.

Special thanks to and Harper Muse for allowing me to read this book for my honest opinion. I will be buying a copy to keep and recommending this book to everyone I know!

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The premise of The Light Always Breaks was great, but the execution fell short for me. I also didn't particularly like the ending.

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The Light Always Breaks by Angela Jackson-Brown is an historical novel with the back drop of the early days of the Civil Rights Movement with the charismatic Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and my alma mater founder, Mary McLeod Bethune (Bethune-Cookman University) and a romance that is taboo at the time-interracial love.

The characters were all strong with very good storyline that probably could have made the book much longer. And, the themes covered ranged from civil rights to women's rights, to family to interracial relationships. This story was full and I can't wait to read Ms. Jackson-Brown's next novel. Her writing reminds of a mix of Bernice McFadden, J. California Cooper & Tayari Jones-you know that you will read everything they write.

Thank you netgalley for this arc!

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Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Muse for the advanced review copy of The Light Always Breaks, releasing July 5, 2022.

The Light Always Breaks is the story of Eva, a young Black restaurant owner in 1940s D.C. During the course of the book, we watch her find her way in the midst of running a restaurant, falling in love, and navigating tumultuous politics.

What worked for me:
-A strong Black female protagonist
-Complicated relationships
-Differing viewpoints about the Civil Rights movement as it was happening
-Positive portrayal of sisterhood

What didn’t work for me:
-Parts of this were overly sappy. I felt like someone was always crying.
-Toward the end of the book, some characters made decisions that didn’t seem to match where they had been heading for the rest of the book.
-The ending was very disappointing and felt like an easy and irresponsible way to resolve loose ends.

Overall, this book had a promising premise and the elements of a great novel. Unfortunately, the pieces didn’t come together to make a great whole.

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This was in my opinion an OK books--not really good but not bad either.

The story is set in the beginning of 1947 with Eva Cordon opening an all successful Black restaurant in Washington DC. She meets a white man, Courtland who is a senator from Georgia. This is the period when the union between the colored and white people are forbidden. They both believe in equal rights and civil rights movement and eventually, they both start falling in love.

Although I liked the plot, the first few chapters were utter boring that I almost DNF the book. The story is told from the perspectives of Eva and Courtland so it was a bit interesting to know about their life in their own communities--Eva in the Black community and Courtland in the wealthy southern white community where he is expected to marry a white privileged woman from a wealthy family. The ending part is the part where I finally immersed into the story and although I was a bit sad of what really happened to Courtland, the ending wasn't as bad as I thought it would become. Bad side of the book is too much dialogue which made me bored at some point, there were too much of repetition though the plot was a good one.

Overall, it was an OK historical novel--worth 2.5 stars

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC. The review is based on my honest opinion only.

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Historical fiction set in Washington D.C. featuring a strong female lead tackling racism, sexism and classism. The story was great but it seemed to drag on and a bit repetitive. I really liked the characters and how the story concluded.
Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Muse for an eARC.

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Unfortunately, I found this book to be quite repetitive and could not connect to the characters. The story was there but it was poorly executed in my opinion.

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I liked the storyline and the plot, I’m really trying to get into historical fiction more and this was a great add on to that. Some of the small details are a little repetitive but overall, great story.

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I found this book by Angela Jackson brown to very Interesting, I feel like she did a lot of research from the 1940s Civil Rights Era, The story starts with Eva, a black woman, trying to have run a Business that is not segregated, in a very segregated place, she falls for a white man from a political back ground, his family is against it, many around are against it, her own mother and Grandmother had the same love stories in their lives, I really enjoyed the book, I think we needed to know more about Eva and Courtland, but all in all I loved the book.
Thank you to net Galley for allowing me to read this book, this is one of my favorite Authors when it comes to Historical Fiction books

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I had really high hopes for this novel but I wasn’t able to connect with the story as the writing was extremely repetitive, the dialogue was not enjoyable to me and I just wasn't able to get into the story as a result.

For me, this one is a pass.

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A strong historical fiction that features themes of racism, racial justice, and a strong female lead. Set at the height of the Civil Rights movement, a Black woman and a White man are drawn to each other. Volatile, inspiring, powerful story- a thought provoking read.

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Highly recommend!! My first book to read by this author but definitely not my last!! Uniquely and beautifully written, this story and its characters stay with you long after you finish the book.

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