Talking about this book? Be sure to tag it using #NORVEL #NetGalley
On a September morning in 1948 a member of the U.S. Olympic team and Howard University student was arrested for taking a seat in the white section of a segregated train car in rural Virginia. The resulting court case eventually resulted in a landmark civil rights decision.
Norvel Lee spent his childhood in a rustic, segregated black community nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. His father was a day laborer for the railroad while his mother expected her children to get an education and become involved in community affairs. In spite of obstacles such as Virginia's jim crow laws, limited schooling opportunities, and a speech impediment, Norvel's life journey led to exceptional accomplishments in the larger world.
After high school, he was selected for flight training at Tuskegee Army Airfield. He served in a segregated unit in the South Pacific during World War II. Afterward, he enrolled at Howard University to pursue engineering and took up intramural boxing. As a pugilist he excelled, becoming the national AAU heavyweight champion and a member of the U.S. Olympic team. In 1952 he once again was on the U.S. Olympic team, making history at the Helsinki Games.
Norvel married Leslie Jackson of Leesburg, Virginia, graduated from Howard University, and started a family. Later he received several advanced degrees and devoted himself to a career in education. He and Leslie became prominent mentors and sponsors of young people in the greater Washington, D.C., area. He also served as a senior officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.
Based on true events, NORVEL is a meticulously researched story about a remarkable man.
5.0 out of 5 stars An astounding man captured so timelessly
Reviewed in the United States on June 7, 2020
It is truly astounding to believe that everything captured in this novel is authentically about one great man, a man who should've been more well known before this masterpiece and deserves nothing but acclaim and recognition. Conklin so tirelessly retold Norvel Lee's life events in such a genuine way it's hard to believe he wasn't there with him during all these moments. This book reads like a remarkable work of fiction, so smooth and entrancing, it goes beyond words to express how inspirational and touching this extraordinary man's life was, and if readers don't feel pushed to rise above and make wondrous things happen in their life no matter the effort or time like Norvel did, than I challenge this book wasn't read carefully enough.
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for the must read pile
Reviewed in the United States on May 19, 2020
I went into this book not knowing anything about Norvel Lee. I finished it with feelings of great respect for such an honorable man. He achieved so much it's inspiring. I think readers will relate to this humble man who excelled at everything. It's certainly poignant storytelling at its best and captures and relates what Norvel Lee was capable of achieving -- from the smallest endeavors to becoming a champion. I definitely feel this is a must read if you're someone who likes stories that tug at the heart strings.
Audra T. Russell
5.0 out of 5 stars Norvel Lee is the finest example I have read of what all people should strive to be.
Reviewed in the United States on February 11, 2020
I didn't even know this book was being worked on. This man, Norvel Lee, is my husband's uncle. I've always heard snippets of what a powerhouse of a man he was. Now I have great details about him and I am very moved.
He was an Olympic gold medalist in boxing, had a distinguished military career which included being a Tuskegee airman, an educator, a businessman, and a family man. Each of those titles holds SO many accomplishments within it, I can't possibly list it all here.
All I can say is what a legacy this man left behind. Norvel Lee is the finest example I have read of what all people should strive to be. He did his best and always looked forward. Read this book. You will be the better for it.