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Four Spirits Paperback – September 7, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Naslund, with unimpeachable skill, fictionalizes the horrors, creates recognizeable humans to populate her story, and makes an imperative of remembrance. Naslund's skill is formidable. She is a writer to pay attention to. She knows the human heart in darkness and in light.
Naslund brilliantly weaves real events (such as the bombing of a Birmingham church in which four little girls perished) and real people (Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in the civil rights movement) into a rich tapestry of fictional characters and events. Through these fictional characters, we see and feel the impact of the horrific events of this shameful period in our history.
In the beginning, I had a hard time with the format--each short chapter was about a different character, so it might be many chapters before the storyline you were most interested in would resume. I understood that it was necessary to introduce the characters fully and deeply enough that I would care about them when the tragic events of this story start unfolding. In that, Ms. Naslund was very successful.
It must be said that this book is very difficult to read--not journalistically or linguistically, but emotionally. That is not to say it is a story that should not be told or read. I am deeply grateful that I have experienced it and yet, there were times when I said "I can't take any more" because the intensity of emotion and piling-on effect of tragic events was just too much (the irony that the people in Birmingham--and all across the South--in the 1960s may have been feeling the same way is not lost on me).
I have read many sad books.Read more ›
Naslund's novel interweaves the lives of the foot soldiers of the movement; she unflinchingly exposes their fears, ambivalences and doubts about personal valor, the efficacy of non-violence and the possibility of creating a society based on racial egalitarianism. Each character has an integrity and a wholeness, a core set of values, which make them not only understandable to us, but believable. "Four Spirits," therefore, is a work that is much greater than the sum of its parts. At its best, the novel is an evocation of the spirit of possibility that animated African-American and white men, women and children to sacrifice everything for an idea whose very nature exemplifies our national purpose. As the characters grapple with their own demons, ranging from profound personal loss to serious character weakness, Naslund effects a gripping narrative of a city, Birmingham, Alabama, locked in the grip of the greatest social movement for change in the twentieth century.
Stella, who survived a horrific childhood automobile accident that claimed the lives of her family, describes herself as "somebody who wanted to change...to live more fully.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is simply one of the most beautiful books I've ever read, and I read a great deal.Published 15 days ago by Med
First of all, the title of this review is not original. It is borrowed from the New York Times review of 'Four Spirits' by Will Blythe and was as perfect a description of the... Read morePublished 17 days ago by BOB
When I picked this book for my book club I knew it was topical. I knew we (as a nation) need to focus our attention on the racism in this country and one way to do that is to... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Nicole Del Sesto
I learned so much history. Book is full of various people w divergent viewpoints. We need to know where we have been.Published 11 months ago by Grandmama
This book was in excellent shape. It was delivery promptly as well. That's especially important since I belong to a book club and often need to get started reading for the next... Read morePublished on October 22, 2013 by Victoria J. Reese
Well written reminder of the struggles in the past of integration; informing but still a page turner with an interesting twist for the end result.Published on October 12, 2013 by Marga'Lee Marshall
It seems Sena Jeter Naslund can't write a bad book, so no matter the subject, it's a must-read. This particular tome takes place in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s and the story... Read morePublished on September 7, 2013 by Jan Kellis
A heart-wrenching story masterfully told and very enlightening. A nuanced and profound retelling of the civil Rights Movement in Alabama. Left me breathless.Published on August 24, 2013 by NDA
I ordered this book for a book group I attend. It has taken me awhile to get into it, because it is set in a dark time for our nation. Read morePublished on July 22, 2013 by Paul R. Buettner