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Let It Shine Kindle Edition
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I really love well written novellas, it's my favorite length of fiction, but often times authors fall into the trap of writing something that feels rushed and incomplete. Not so here. This feels like a complete story and the pacing was great. Also, this is a time period that I almost never see in the romance genre (Civil Rights Era 1960's), and an inter-racial romance about a pair of protagonists that I really gave a damn about. I was 100% invested not only in Sofie's romance with Ivan. But I was even more invested in watching her grow up, come out of her shell, fight through the expectations of her father and of society as a whole, and become the woman she wanted to be - all at the same time of being terrified for what might happen to her given the dangerous situation she was walking into. So anyway, yes, it's pretty fantastic.
I enjoyed this novella so much that I immediately went to find out what else the author had written, discovered she wrote post-apocalyptic romance, squeed out loud and went and bought the first two books of her other series, which I am currently enjoying. At this rate, I'm pretty sure I've discovered a new favorite author and will end up reading through all of her backlist at some point.
Thank you, Alyssa Cole, for writing Let It Shine and sharing it with us. I loved it from start to finish!
This tightly written novella is a coming of age story for Sofie and Ivan, who've known one another since they were children--Sofie's mother Delia was the housekeeper for Ivan's family and Sofie and Ivan were childhood playmates whose friendship was cut short by the death of Sofie's mother. Now years later, they've both become activists, getting involved as nonviolent protesters in the civil rights movement while the communities around then advise otherwise. For Sofie, her father only wants her to be respectable and not make waves. He thinks he is keeping her safe in trying to groom her into a docile young woman. For Ivan, now a regional champion boxer, he and his father are at odds over his boxing--his father wanted him to be a scholar--and in how they each deal with their grief over the loss of Ivan's mother. This would be enough to cause problems for the two--but race and religion separate them. Sofie is black and Christian; Ivan is white and Jewish. And in this point in history, interracial relationships are punishable by law. And segregation is the law in Richmond, Virginia in the 1960s.
What I loved about Let It Shine that it weaves in the politics and history of the time so seamlessly with the love story. Both have equal weight in this story. And really, this is not something we can ignore. It would have been disingenuous to ignore or pretend that the violence directed at the Freedom Riders never took place. And to write a story set during this time period--the early 1960s--and setting and NOT take it up would have led to a boring and not very interesting story. But Alyssa Cole took the challenge and tackled it head on, giving the readers a fantastic sense of the courage and fear Sofie and Ivan have as they embark upon their journey into adulthood and to the reality of what their lives will be in 1960s America.
A five-star read! I look forward to Alyssa Cole's next release!
The characters were wonderfully written, and while it was still a romance, I don't think they would have fallen in love any other way. I would have liked more explanation on what the Freedom Ride was, why it was significant, but all in all, would highly recommend this historical novel.
How it ends is beautiful.