A Cold, Hard Prayer

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Pub Date 01 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2023

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In 1924, an orphan train passes through the Midwest, and two teenagers, seeking a new life, find nothing but hardship when taken in to live on a farm in Michigan. Mercy, a teenage girl of mixed race, and a boy nicknamed Rope, who lost fingers in a factory accident, become virtual prisoners of Harlan and Estelle Nau, whose children died during the Spanish flu epidemic. After facing abuse, Mercy and Rope flee, making an arduous journey into sparsely populated northern Michigan, where Mercy believes she will find her aunt. After Harlan is found murdered on his farm, police captain Jim Kincaid pursues Mercy and Rope to the cold, barren villages on the Mackinac Straits, but his efforts are complicated by the reemergent Ku Klux Klan, which has formed a coalition with the police deputy Milt Waters and the Dingley brothers, who run a local bootleg operation. Resolute and intrepid, Mercy and Rope develop a bond of mutual trust that helps them navigate a stark American landscape shaped by prejudice, hypocrisy, and fear.

In 1924, an orphan train passes through the Midwest, and two teenagers, seeking a new life, find nothing but hardship when taken in to live on a farm in Michigan. Mercy, a teenage girl of mixed race...

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ISBN 9781611864786
PRICE $29.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

This was one of the best books I have read recently. There was a well-developed plot and characters. It was a book that I could not put down. The story's development had you guessing what would happen, but you were never sure how the story would be resolved.
This book also was a great starting point for discussing what is happening today and how history repeats itself. While connecting history to real-life events, there is also the issue of choosing good or evil. Why would you consider taking the law into your own hands, and is vigilante justice justified?
I would highly recommend this book.

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I received a copy of "A Cold Hard Prayer" from Netgalley. I was interested in reading this book because it takes place in Michigan. I live in Michigan so wanted to see what this book is about. Mercy and Lincoln" Rope" came to Michigan on the Orphan train from Boston. They end up together on a farm. They are not treated well. When the wife has to go to the hospital for surgery, the husband traps Mercy in her attic room and tries to rape her. Rope rescues her but has to kill the man to save her. They are now on the run and on their way in northern Michigan to make it to the upper Peninsula. Mercy believes she has an aunt who is supposed to live in Michigan.
Both Mercy and Rope are in danger and chased to bring them back to the farm. This is 1924 so their is prohibition. Mercy is bi-racial " in the book they refer to her as a "mulatta" so she is dealing with the KKK.
Mercy and Rope are trying to survive and save themselves throughout the book. I liked reading this book since the author mentions many of the cities in Michigan. I found myself rooting for Mercy and Rope. a good read.

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I'm truly impressed with this book. I couldn't put it down! There were even gripping quotes that I turned to my husband and read aloud to him because I loved it so much!

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This was a great read. I have been finding myself getting more into historical fiction lately, and this book has furthered my interest in the genre for sure. A very well written story full of adventure, anticipation, hope, and freedom. I really enjoyed the authors writing style and was hooked from the beginning. My only complaint is that I wished there would have been an epilog or a more detailed ending. I was invested in the characters by the end and wanted more of their future.

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A Cold, Hard Prayer takes us into the world of Mercy and Rope, two orphans who made the arduous journey to the Midwest on an orphan train. We follow these resilient teens to the last stop on the line where they are acquired by a family where abuse, and the aftermath, gives them no choice but to flee.

This story is charged with the rise and influence of the KKK across the midwestern states and drives the story forward with Mercy being of mixed ethnicity. Battling against time and the “law and order” of the KKK recruiters, police captain Kincaid rushes to find the two orphans before they are delivered to a very different type of justice.

I thought this book was incredibly well-researched and didn’t shy away from the hard details. It was an excellent reflection on how the economic downturn of the time paired with advances in technology really spread radical ideologies rapidly throughout the USA (and elsewhere). In a time where life is a struggle for the working class, finding someone to blame gives a sense of control back to those who are isolated from decision-making.

I appreciated the reality of the writing, and would certainly recommend this book. If you were a fan of Orphan Train, this would definitely be a book for you!

Thank you to NetGalley, Michigan State University Press and John Smolens for an advanced e-copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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I the John Simolens is a great author, I really enjoyed this book, the 2 main charactors inthe book are orphans, the go through such a hard life, all the wanted was a family life. They eventually flee the abuse, but that is just the begining of the trouble they go through. This is a must read for those who like Historical fiction. Thank you to the Author for allowing me to read this good book.

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Well written with a couple of surprises. I loved learning more about klan activity in the Midwest. Several plot points seemed unbelievable, but not enough to make me stop reading.

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