Cover Image: The Light Always Breaks

The Light Always Breaks

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Member Reviews

I didn't know what to expect reading this book because i was drawn by the gorgeous cover but once i started it i was hooked by the beautiful beautiful writing that weaved love, Race issues and fight and faith
I loved the characters and other aspects of them that made them so real
This is definitely a gem that needs to be on your never-ending tbr pile.

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Eva is a strong character and is an independent businsess woman. She and her sister share a strong bond and created a unique family structure. The is an interesting story set during the late 1940s and shows how the organizers of the civil rights movement were trying to gain traction. I wish was more was dedicated to the relationship betweeh Eva and Courtland. I also think the story ended without resolution with the crimes committed and other loose ends.

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“The light will always break, Eva. You just have to give it time, and then, any sadness left over from the previous day will fade away.”

Where many would walk the fine line of neutrality, Eva Cardon puts everything she’s worked hard for on the line when she supports the civil rights movement. For her, there’s no question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ as she’s been learning about segregation from time spent on her grandmother’s knee. The nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., was a glaring contradiction of Jim Crow laws and its citizens claimed that ‘separate is not equal’. The Negro leaders have been working to end the laws and Eva wants to show her support. When she offers up her restaurant to host meetings, it becomes the focus of racist attacks. Eva’s commitment is put to the test just as she’s struggling personally regarding her friendship with the southern Democrat Senator, Cortland Hardiman Kingsley IV.

The author has dedicated time to explaining the African American civil rights movement so that even ‘green’ readers understand Eva’s actions and reactions. She’s also meticulously crafted her characters, gifting them with tremendous tension and grit. Readers are always aware that the characters are struggling; with family, with friends, with the negro community, with those in politics and with the white majority. The author uses this tension well to help readers see who the characters really are underneath their façade. I loved Eva. She was a force to be reckoned with - a female negro owner of a popular restaurant. I love that she relied on what she was taught as a child and that she had the strength to stand for what’s right. The most insightful part of the book was when she was reminded that having power and being powerful are two different things!

Despite a few pacing problems, this was an enlightening historical fiction book about trust, familial and cultural bonds, and doing what’s right in a world that is rapidly changing. The book centers around the fight for civil rights.

I was gifted this advance copy by Angela Jackson-Brown, Harper Muse, and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

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Set in 1947 Washington, D.C (mostly) and Georgia (a bit) this work of historical fiction follows Eva, a 24 year old Black restaurant owner in Washington, D.C as she navigates life, family, activism, and love.

I enjoyed reading this book and getting to know all of the characters and the trials that each of them encountered and in many cases overcame throughout the story. Each of the characters was well developed and by the end I felt like I knew each of the characters. I also really enjoyed the fact that the reader was able to meet the families of each of the main characters, Eva and Courtland, and see how the families helped to shape each of the characters.

While I did enjoy the story overall, it also left me wanting more from the book. The book was Eva and Courtland’s story and yet I felt like there should have been more interaction with these two characters.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Muse for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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The author had a good cast of characters and plot, but the storyline was just not there. She repeated herself so many times she just lost my interest. The book could have been so great if the story were not fully developed and not so repetitive. Disappointed.

Thanks you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange of an honest review.

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3.5 ⭐ rounded down. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC in exchange of an honest review.

This book was fine. I really liked the sorry, the characters were complex and I was interested to see how the story develops but other than that the book fell short of my expectations. I particularly did not enjoy the writing. It was repetitive at times (the whole book could have been 100pgs less in my opinion) and it just felt very forced. There was no flow.

Overall it was a good story but I found it poorly executed

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This book could have been a rather predictable love story, but the setting and the details of the period saved it and turned it into a fascinating read of upper class Black life in Washington DC post WW2. The reader will appreciate the integrity of the story and be exposed to the beginnings of a movement to better our country. I thoroughly enjoyed being transported into this world and it made me want to know more about some of the characters that Jackson-Brown's characters were modeled after. It would be an excellent choice for a book club to read.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book.

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As 1947 closes out, successful restaurant owner Eva Cardon considers her family's complicated past as she prepares to host a New Year's Eve party with a guest list loaded with some of Washington, D.C.’s most iconic political movers and shakers from Women’s Suffragist and Civil Rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune to Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and celebrities like Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington, and Frank Sinatra. Against the turbulent backdrop of human rights protests for equal access to the voting ballot, education, protection under the law and Civil Rights, this knowledgeable author has crafted a family saga that examines the emotional and physical inheritances from generations of racism. Eva's older sister Frederique and her brother-in-law Hal Pearson embody different approaches to resistance and to advocacy in Black/African Diasporic communities while Senator Courtland Hardiman Kingsley IV and his family do the same for privileged Anglo/Caucasian/white sensibilities. Events alter their parallel trajectories into collisions with radiant impacts.

The initial writing style tells more than it shows in order to set the scene before the narrative eventually eases into a smoother, basic rhythm of allowing the story to unfold. An immersive sense of time and place makes The Light Always Breaks an enticing lure to understanding complex factors in being privileged economically while politically and otherwise experiencing discrimination. Rich historical context is this novel's greatest strength and the source of its 4 stars. There's a quote that says, “History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.” From the hierarchy of skin complexion to racialized police brutality and sketchy political deals, Eva's 20th-century story rings a discordant echo with present-day societal unrest.

Content warning: some racialized and misogynistic hostility and police brutality, and references to them

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What a powerful story!

Set in 1947, the main characters are Eva - 24, successful restaurant owner in Washington, DC and Courtland - decorated war hero, junior senator from Georgia and its a beautiful, sad love story.

This book has strong, courageous women characters; racial discrimination; interesting family dynamics; love; loss; and such an incredible story. It's a hard story to enjoy, knowing its in our history, but a rewarding read!

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a temporary, digital ARC in return for my review.

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This is a wonderful book that takes you back to the Jim Crow Era. Eva is a successful restaurant owner looking to expand. She is also very involved in politics and abolishing slavery.
Eva is a brave, sophisticated character that I loved.
I liked the attraction between her and Courtland. We see how some things were different back then but in some ways still the same today. Especially when it comes to segregation and diversity.
A great book club book because there is plenty to discuss!

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC!

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In 1947, few women own upscale restaurants in Washington, DC. Fewer still are twenty-four, Black, and wildly successful. But Eva Cardon is unwilling to serve only the wealthiest movers and shakers, and she plans to open a diner that serves Southern comfort to the working class. I really enjoyed this book and think many others will too!

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This was a great book. The character development was top notch and the writing absolutely blew me away. I truly did not expect to love this book so much!

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From the first moments we meet Eva Cardon, it's easy to fall in love with her. Her intelligence, compassion, motivation and generosity make it clear why everyone in her sphere seems to regard her so highly. Inspired by the glamour of her legendary hostess mother and her nurturing, wise grandmother, Eva has created a thriving restaurant business with plans to expand. Some would bask in that success and hesitate to do anything to risk it, but Eva is determined to do anything she can to support the civil rights movement regardless of potential harm that may come to her. Her thoughtfulness is evident in her choices to use her flourishing business for good by donating leftover food and by creating opportunities for other black businesspeople in her community ranging from interior designers and artists to restaurant staff.

Through this story we are transported back to the Jim-Crow era, and Angela Jackson-Brown brings this time into devastating focus by including myriad small details that go far beyond the basics of what most people already know. These details help to flesh out the entire setting, also helping us to understand the intricacies of the difficulties our protagonists face.

The author does an exceptional job in this book of introducing the characters to us in a way that helps us to truly understand them. We get to see the people they want to be and how they present themselves to the outer world, but we also get to peek behind the curtains into their true hidden feelings and thoughts. We encounter the cores of their beings and are able to then relate to how deeply they are affected by the things happening beyond their control.

Through the encounters between Eva and Courtland, Jackson-Brown captures the power of attraction and that undefinable quality which motivates humans beyond reason and judgement. This is truly a beautiful book that is equal parts romance, history and substance.

Highly, highly recommend!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I very much appreciate the opportunity to read this novel by Angela Jackson-Brown, which I enjoyed quite a lot. An interesting study of just how much some things have changed vs. Just how much they haven't. I look forward to reading more by this author.

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