The Catbird Seat
by Rebecca Hollingsworth
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Pub Date 27 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 27 Oct 2022
Greenleaf Book Group, Greenleaf Book Group Press
At first, Gillian Culkin feels only mildly inconvenienced by crowds of demonstrators debating the presence of the Confederate flag flying brazenly atop the South Carolina State House. Gil passes these people every day as she makes her way to work in the Caroliniana Library on the University of South Carolina campus. Like so many other White Southerners, she had never before given much thought to racial issues. But over the course of a few weeks, she comes to realize that the flag represents important and entrenched issues of race and inequality. Gil finds her views on race developing and evolving as she examines the past and sees its influence on the present.
Meanwhile, at the Caroliniana, she studies the 1857 diary of a South Carolina dirt farmer named William Medlin. Hollingsworth makes him the center of a second story. Thinking to turn a quick profit, Medlin buys a slave at auction. In the course of the tragic journey he then undertakes with his newly acquired slave, Medlin’s views of enslavement change.
The two narratives—one told in the present, the other in the past, in alternating chapters—provide a probing and insightful look at what it means to be human within an often inhumane system
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Average rating from 7 members
I loved the use of the alternating chapters, I found both leads to work for the story and as real people. The story was really well done and Rebecca Hollingsworth has a beautiful writing style. I was invested in what was going on and the time-period stuff worked on all levels. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Hollingsworth.
"Mary Ellen had listened as both families came to the conclusion the home for wayward girls was the only way to deal with the situation. There was one thing she knew at that moment, that she was not going to go to some mountain hideaway for close to a year."