Read advance reader review of Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks, page 4 of 5

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Moonrise Over New Jessup

by Jamila Minnicks

Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks X
Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2023, 336 pages

    Nov 28, 2023, 352 pages


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Page 4 of 5
There are currently 29 member reviews
for Moonrise Over New Jessup
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  • Marilyn T. (Los Angeles, CA)
    Moonrise Over New Jessup
    This engaging novel draws readers in with compelling plot twists, interesting characters, and an unusual perspective on the Civil Rights era. Set in 1957, Alice has fled a dangerous situation when she happens upon New Jessup, Alabama; an all-black community which offers her a haven and eventually, a home. In this seemingly idyllic place, the residents resist integration in favor of a self-built, small town where they can live and raise families away from the hateful injustice that is present elsewhere in the Jim Crow South. Alice finds love but also uncovers threats and weaknesses to her new home, both from within and outside. With its nuanced approach to history, this is a great book to share and an excellent choice for book groups. It offers a timely reminder that social change often comes with a cost; though the darker messages are leavened with an appreciative nod to Black resourcefulness and community.
  • Nancy R. (Fort Wayne, IN)
    Moonrise Over New Jessup
    Eye-catching cover-- colorful flowers, gold seal literary award, positive blurb from an accomplished, well-known author—what's not to like? Reading Moonrise Over New Jessup caused me to question why I choose to read what I do. Are choices made based on entertainment value, to escape from the ordinary, to savor well-constructed phrases and different vocabulary, to learn about other times or cultures or emotions?
    I would not call Moonrise Over New Jessup an enjoyable book. Many times, because of a slow-moving plot, I set it aside and reached for something more "enjoyable." Yet, I kept returning to it, drawn in by author Jamila Minnicks' evocative writing, e.g., "…when summer whispered into fall…" or "I had never owned anything looking like somebody poured liquid emeralds all over me." I learned new phrases, like "grits o'clock" , "sunrise home", "Thursday tired", and "This cake's already baked."
    Some things I questioned because they seemed indicative of a writer describing an era she herself had not lived through. Pantyhose in 1957, the use of the phrase/idea "…students and teachers who look like them", feminine angst over balancing marriage, motherhood and career all seemed to be later developments that distracted from the narrative's authenticity.
    Still, although Moonrise was neither an easy nor a pleasant read, it was a valuable one that did enrich my life, and for that reason ,I will be recommending it to my book club—the Fort Wayne Rowdy Readers—as we select our books for next year's readings and discussions.
  • Judith M. (Granville, OH)
    Moonrise Over New Jessup
    New Jessup was an African American town in Alabama that resisted integration. There were no "whites only" signs; there were no "colored entrance" signs. In addition to fully developed characters, the love story narration, and opposing viewpoints of the civil rights movement, the book is beautifully written. "Cool morning air thick with a low autumn fog," "paper with my dried tears and defenses … went up in smoke," and "exhale to release the inside noise" are examples of imagery that fill the pages of this book. I found joy in the imagery and could see and feel and smell and hear as if I were there. Everyone who loves beautiful writing will enjoy this book.
  • Paula W. (East Wenatchee, WA)
    Moonrise Over New Jessup
    Reading the first sentence of this novel I knew this was a beautifully written book and it did not disappoint. It was also an excellent character driven book. I bonded with Alice Young immediately. She is a young woman who has left her hometown after her remaining parent dies. She gets on a bus hoping to arrive in Chicago where she thinks her sister lives. Not having enough money for the fare her destination is Birmingham.

    However before arriving there she gets off the bus at New Jessup. This is an all black town and she decides to stay. In this town the people welcome and embrace her. She has a job as a seamstress, has a small place to live and falls in love with a wonderful man. She is a strong young woman and this is a story of the love for her husband and also the courage to protect him when she finds out he and some friends are involved with something that could hurt him his friends and family, and could possibly banished them from town.

    I enjoyed this book. It took place in Alabama in the 1950's, and I was happy to read about this town and the people. This will be a good book for book clubs to discuss.
  • Laura P. (Atlanta, GA)
    A Different View
    Jamila Minnicks's new novel looks at the Civil Rights Movement from a different perspective. Set in an independent all-Black town in Alabama, Minnicks posits the arrival of Alice Young, a young woman fleeing an abusive white landlord in another town whose bus ticket runs out when she reaches New Jessup. Alice falls in love with and marries Raymond Chapman, who is secretly working with an "agitator" organization, while she thrives in the protective atmosphere of an all black community that she perceives as "separate but equal." The story line weighs and balances the two viewpoints and their impact on the lives of the Chapmans and other citizens of New Jessup. It's an interesting perspective, and one I've not heard or read about attached to the Black community during late 50s/early 60s Civil Rights era.
  • Brenda S. (Sebring, FL)
    It has potential
    There is an assumption that a sequel will be forthcoming as the story is not complete. The story is quite compelling, especially when talking about racial inequality in the 50's. It would be nice to know how the characters' lives end up and if integration is possible or just a pipe dream. I passed the book on to someone else to see if the relevance was felt as strongly. Not too bad; again, it would have been better had it been completed.
  • Amber H. (Asheville, NC)
    Strong start but lost interest
    I loved the first 25 of this book. Learning about Alice's travels to New Jessup, her backstory, etc. About the time Raymond came on the scene I started to lose interest. It felt like there were a lot of different story lines going on, but they were all disconnected from each other. The new romance with Raymond, the search for Rosie, Patience's removal, NNAS, etc. The stories were all over the place and didn't intertwine as much as I wish they would have.

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