Let it Shine is an interracial historical romance novella that takes place during the Civil Rights movement in 1961. It is effectively told from two perspectives, Sofronia, the young African American heroine, and Ivan, her Jewish love interest. Sofronia and Ivan meet again, after not seeing each other since childhood. Her mother was a maid in the Friedman’s house, and Sofie and Ivan used to play together as children. After her mother’s death, one that shapes both of their lives, they don’t see each other until they meet by chance at a meeting organizing non violent protests.
As the setting for this novel was during the Civil Rights movement, their love story and the hurdles a white man and an African American woman during this time would have together, was expected. Having the story told from both of their perspectives gave a different light on that theme, as his side was told from the perspective of a Jewish white man who loves an African American woman. 1961 is not too far removed from the Holocaust, and he faces some prejudices himself. At one point, as Sofie struggles with how his father speaks to her ( calling her a schvartze, which I believe is the Yiddish version of the “n” word), Ivan points out how her father called his family “cheap, hook-nosed bastards”, and Sofie realizes that prejudice goes both ways. These shared experiences and commonalities strengthen their union, and for the reader adds depth and meaning to their love story. I know I was rooting for them as a couple as well as their fight against prejudice.
This novella was only 130 pages long, yet felt like a whole book. The story was complete, the background of each character well told, and their love story emotional and filled with promise. Their fight for civil rights provided an edge of tension that made their love story rock with passion. Alyssa Cole did a fantastic job investing the viewer in these emotions, so quickly and in so few pages.
Copyright 2016 Deborah Kehoe A Chick Who Reads All Rights Reserved