Cover Image: Moonrise Over New Jessup

Moonrise Over New Jessup

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Member Reviews

The voice in this novel is amazing! I was caught from the first page and moved me into places in history I never knew. I appreciate the focus on Black joy and Black lives, not only out of celebration for culture but also because lives are complex and complicated, and Minnicks is a voice that celebrates that range.

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I was taken in by the first sentence and the beautiful writing continues throughout. This is a look at the time of the early Civil Rights Movement in 1957 in Alabama in an all Black community segregated by choice . While New Jessup is a fictional place , it perhaps represents the towns like these that existed in history.

Alice Young has lost her parents and needs to escape the only home she’s known to save herself from the potential abuse of her landlord and to try to get to Chicago to find her sister . She gets off the train early and finds herself in a place called New Jessup where there are no Negro and White entrances , only entrances and no white people to be seen for that matter . This becomes the entrance to the rest of her life as she finds a place of caring people , a place where she’ll find love and friendship, but as life and history would have it , it’s not always smooth sailing . Most of the people there are in favor of keeping the chosen segregation, even though there is dependence on the white side of Jessup. However, there are some who would choose equality over the current situation, including the man Alice loves. There are clandestine meetings, secret activities and decisions to be made.

There is a lot written about the plot in any number of reviews, so I won’t say more about it . I will say that this is a beautifully written story of an unforgettable character, and that there is much to think about in the discussions of chosen segregation vs desegregation. A thoughtful and thought provoking debut novel.

Things sometimes get in the way of my reading plans, and it took me too long to get to this book which I had an advanced copy of, but has been published. I’m sorry I didn’t get to this sooner . Thanks to my Goodreads friend Diane , whose review prompted me to read it now . Looking forward to see what’s next for this author.

I received a copy of this book from Algonquin Books through NetGalley.

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3.5 stars.

Moonrise Over New Jessup is a historical fiction set in the late 1950s and early 60s about Black lives and community. This is set in a time when segregation had only just been abolished but when racism was rampant multifold when compared to today.

After their mother’s death, Alice’s sister Rosie runs away and soon, their father also passes away. Their landlord keeps finding excuses to attack Alice and fed up, she escapes Rensler, too, taking along with her a few possessions. She intends to go to Chicago but finds New Jessup on the way, an all-Black town that seems too good to be true. But on seeing that it is real, she decides to stay, with the help of a few kind-hearted strangers.

She soon falls in love with Raymond Campbell, who she soon learns is involved in organizing activities to strengthen New Jessup’s political standing and to advance Black life in the town. How she contends with societal, personal, and political upheavals, putting everything she left behind in stark contrast to what she now knows and what is to come, forms the rest of the story.

The premise itself is fantastic in every way, showing how a mix and match of ideologies are required to further society. It focuses on the importance of discussion, of keeping community, of keeping the larger question in sight every time you make a decision, especially with something as important as the question of integration.

I especially loved Alice and Raymond’s bond, the way they understood and communicated with each other. I had little patience for some characters, but they were necessary to show the thin line that separates right and wrong, and that sometimes, there’s no wrong; just different ways of being right.

The writing itself, however, I wasn’t a huge fan of. It turns over itself, repeating and meandering in ways that, again, grated at my patience. It alternates between using the vernacular and some of the most poetic things ever, talking about sunsets and flowers, which usually wouldn’t be a problem but here, they clash and sound much like a milder version of nails on a chalkboard.

There was also no bigger conflict across the book that directly affected the characters. It could be argued that the politics discussed did affect them, but it was always out of sight, like an imminent but arbitrary event. Only towards the end was there anything but that too was squashed very quickly.

Looking at it in retrospect, it holds a lot of important points, be it for politics or as a commentary on society or on the clashing of opinions. But its dragginess, repetition, and lack of bigger conflict pulled it down from what could have been its throne and settled it squarely on a minister’s chair.

I would still recommend this book but I only ask that you show it some patience.

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I enjoyed this book, had a hard time putting it down, but find a few months later that I remember little of it. I'd give it a solid 3.5 and I reserve 4s and 5s for the very best.

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I absolutely loved Moonrise Over New Jessup!! Jamila Minnicks really has a winner with this novel, it was 2021 winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction! Starting out during mid 50's Alabama and the beginning of the civil rights movement. A young woman leaves the place she grew up and starts over in New Jessup. She falls in love with the community, it's ethics and values, as well as the people. As she makes it her home, falling in love, starting a family, she is willing to do almost anything to protect their way of life.
This novel takes an utterly unique perspective on the civil rights movement, one that needed to be shared. I very highly recommend it and cannot wait to see what Jamila Minnicks writes next!

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Moonrise Over New Jessup is an evocative debut novel by Jamila Minnicks set in the 1950s American South. Alice Young is a young Black woman who flees her hometown after her father's death when her landlord attempts to rape her. She escapes but knows he will try again, so she leaves the only home she has ever known. Her goal is to reach her sister, who left for Chicago many years ago. Unfortunately, Alice has not heard from her sister in a long time and has no way to reach her for help. She also has little money.

Alice stumbles into New Jessup basically because she has no money to go any further. She is astonished to learn there are no "Negro entrances" in this town and is uncertain how to proceed. She is confused at first, but soon realizes she has landed in a town that is entirely populated by Black people.

New Jessup seemed like a dream come true to Alice, but as she got to know the townspeople, she found some of them were not satisfied with the arrangement -- and with good reason. While some of the townspeople – primarily the older ones – were happy in their thriving, segregated town and didn't want to rock the boat, many younger residents wanted more for their families. They also feared that the white people in the neighboring town of Jessup would decide to take what they had worked so hard to build in New Jessup. They had done it once before.

The people of New Jessup welcome Alice. She finds a place to live, a job she enjoys, and soon falls in love with Raymond Campbell, who owns and operates a car repair business with his father. He is also part of an underground group of young activists involved in the growing civil rights movement. Alice is torn between love for her adopted town and her love and loyalty to her boyfriend.

As someone who has lived with prejudice and oppression every day, New Jessup seems near perfect to Alice. She doesn't realize how uneasy the peace is between Jessup and the people of New Jessup, who had destroyed the town once fifty years ago out of resentment for the Black town's success. All Alice really wants is peace.

Moonrise Over New Jessup looks at the period before the civil rights movement reached its peak through an alternative lens, at a time when some Black people may have been weighing their options and asking what kind of future they wanted to build for their children and grandchildren.

Minnick's well-written novel explores family, belonging, and civil rights. It is thought-provoking in the truest sense of the word and will linger in the mind of the reader.

I received this advanced reader copy of Moonrise Over New Jessup from Algonquin Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Sometimes I read a book that I especially like and wonder what it would be like if the editor has done his or her job this was a lovely story, but the editing in the mix of the whole story just didn’t seem to flow smoothly

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This was a beautifully written bookend a beautiful cover! Welcome to New Jessup and meet Alice and Raymond. This book reminds me of how Corretta Scott King and Betty Shabbaz must have felt trying to hold their med down and keep their families intact. Fully developed characters, setting and very believable storyline. I must say Patience needs to be slapped.I don't know what Matthew sees in her. My only complaint is loose thread at the end- Did she join NNAS? Did things blow over with Chase? Cant wait too see what else this author puts out. Thank you for the signed ARC!

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Moonrise Over New Jessup is a skillfully told story of Raymond and Alice, a young couple in New Jessup, Alabama in the early 1960s. Alice was successfully employed as a seamstress in a small shop in New Jessup when she meets Raymond, a young man who returns from Montgomery to New Jessup to work in his family's garage. Raymond also is not so secretly involved in community organizing. The couple struggles with living within Raymond's family traditions and embracing the civil rights changes. Alice's health is impacted by the stress of possibly losing the dream of owning the seamstress shop or becoming a housewife who tends to her home, garden, and family. Author Jamilia Minnick provides readers with a wonderful novel that is highly recommended for discussion groups and new adult readers. Excellent, engaging story.

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First, let me say the cover of this book is stunning. It immediately caught my eye.

There are so many outstanding high reviews of Moonrise Over New Jessup. The summary caught my attention and would typically be a book that I would love and enjoy. This could have simply been the wrong book for me at the wrong time.

The story is good. I felt like this was more an issue of editing and formatting. Too many times I felt like I got whiplash from a change in story or characters and I was completely lost. The writing is good but the book fell short and I really do believe that the formatting and editing of the story could have fixed the issues.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I enjoy books that push me to think about things from a new perspective. This debut novel about the civil rights movement in 1957 Alabama did just that. The idea of integration means different things to different people. A community struggles to decide what that means for them.

The main character, Alice, grew up poor and black in rural Alabama. The image that pops into your mind when you read that was her life. Her mother dies, her older sister leaves for Chicago to find a better life, and eventually her father dies too. With no word from her sister and an attempted rape by the landlord, Alice takes what little money she has and buys a bus ticket. When the bus stops for a break and Alice gets off she isn't sure where to use the restroom or get a drink. There are no "colored" signs.

She is in New Jessup; an all black community surviving and thriving. Residents live life freely. On the other side of the woods is the all white town of Jessup where old south prejudices reign. Many in New Jessup are content with how things are while others want change and integration. Alice is one who is content while her husband is working for change.

It was interesting how the points of view of the characters were very different. I learned a new perspective about what was going on with the civil rights movement in Alabama compared to the rest of the country. I rated the book 4 stars because I would have liked to have seen a little bit more resolution at the end of the story.

#NetGalley #MoonriseOverNewJessup #SociallyEngagedFiction #PENBellweatherWinner

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Jamila Minnicks debut novel gives the reader a different view of history through her beautifully woven story of survival through the Civil Rights Movement. The way the story addresses segregation in rural Alabama will leave you heartbroken, angry, and even hopeful.

The exploration of love and hate in a society where some people are looked down upon was so well written that once I started reading I could not stop.

I am excited to see what this author does in the future.

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I was pleased to include this title in the 2023 Summer Reading Roundup for The Bitter Southerner:

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This may just be a case of wrong reader or wrong time, but this was not the book for me. I loved the beginning of the book and the premise. I loved the interspersing of philosophical thoughts of MLK Jr. , Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. DuBois and the social critiques of the era including gender roles, equal rights, segregation, and voting rights. The writing was also excellent! However, the pacing, lack of character development, and the dropping of a major subplot (what happened to her sister?!) impacted how I felt about it.

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Just absolutely one of the most beautifully written books of all time. There's a compelling premise that loses itself in the beginning, but finishes strong. Can't wait to read more from this author.

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📖My Thoughts📖

This was a very interesting and intriguing read. I haven’t read many books about segregation, so this was a lot to take in. No, I’m not oblivious to segregation by any means, but to read about it through the eyes of someone (even though it was a fictional character) living and breathing it was very impressionable. The book was beautifully written and very powerful. The author did an amazing job portraying what life for an African American woman would have been like living during the time of segregation. The main character Alice was such a strong character and I really enjoyed seeing things through her eyes and the stances she took. I started reading historical fiction books about a year ago, but I’ve mostly dabbled in ones that took place during WW2, however, I really enjoyed being introduced to the civil rights aspect. If you enjoy books that take place during the civil rights movement, I would highly recommend this one.
Thank you Netgalley, Jamilla Minnicks and Algonquin Books for the opportunity to read and review this amazing book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

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Moonrise Over New Jessup is a captivating and thought-provoking debut novel by Jamila Minnicks that takes readers on a journey through the Civil Rights Movement in 1950s Alabama.

The story revolves around Alice Young, a young Black woman who finds herself in the all-Black town of New Jessup after leaving her previous home. In New Jessup, integration is not embraced as a means for progress by the residents, who instead focus on maintaining and strengthening their cherished community on their "side of the woods." Against this backdrop, Alice falls in love with Raymond Campbell, a passionate activist involved in clandestine organizing activities that challenge the town's established order.

Minnicks skillfully weaves together a heart-pounding plot that explores the complexities of love, loyalty, and social change. The tension between Alice's unwavering support for Raymond's underground work and her desire to protect New Jessup from the mounting pressure of upheaval creates a gripping narrative that keeps readers engaged from beginning to end.

One of the strengths of Moonrise Over New Jessup lies in its vivid and well-developed characters. Alice is a relatable and resilient protagonist whose journey of self-discovery resonates deeply. Raymond is portrayed with depth and nuance, embodying the passion and risks associated with fighting for change. The supporting cast of characters, including the residents of New Jessup, adds richness and authenticity to the narrative, allowing readers to fully immerse themselves in the world Minnicks has created.

Comparable to the works of acclaimed authors such as Brit Bennett and Robert Jones Jr., Moonrise Over New Jessup offers a fresh perspective on the Civil Rights Movement. Minnicks' ability to blend history, social commentary, and compelling storytelling is commendable, making this novel an important addition to the literary landscape.

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This book is a powerful exploration of racial segregation; I loved the exploration of different social, political, and racial questions. The idea of a Black human moving to a town where she suddenly experiences what life could be like without prejudice is moving and powerful. What an incredible debut!

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I tried so hard to finish this, but that's the issue right? I had to try over and over again to get through it. It could have been the ARC formatting, possibly the pacing, but I think overall it was the doom and gloom where I was expecting joy. I'm all for realism, but I read this with a different story in mind and the mis-match is making this a chore.

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This was excellent!

I'm going to definitely reread this one again. What I absolutely love about Jamila Minnicks's writing is the ability to really delve deep into both characters and setting just as much as the plot. Giving time to the development of characters and setting, specifically, really drives home the main points and themes of "Moonrise Over New Jessup," and I can't wait to read more from the author!

Definitely give this one a chance! I know I can't wait to get my hands on a physical copy!

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