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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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There are currently 29 reader reviews for Moonrise Over New Jessup
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Linda M. (Ocala, FL)

Revisiting the Civil Rights Struggle
Jamila Minnicks' debut novel Moonrise Over New Jessup takes us back to 1957 and the beginning of the civil rights movement in Alabama. Her compelling characters and engaging prose give us a different lens through which to view the history of the civil rights struggle. New Jessup is one of the many thriving all black communities that once existed in the south. Historically, many of these towns were destroyed or subsumed into white neighborhoods. In the 1950s and 1960s many black communities were fighting for inclusion and integration. But in prosperous New Jessup, the residents are happily separate from white Jessup, and want to remain that way. They don't want to become integrated with whites as much as they want to be "separate but equal". They want their own city government and control of their tax revenue. In New Jessup the residents don't have to take a backseat on the bus or use the "colored" entrance. They like the way they live and want to preserve their way of life. A beautifully written book that will give readers a more nuanced view of the struggle for civil rights faced by blacks in the US.
Carol N. (San Jose, CA)

Filled with warm and impassioned characters
Jamila Minnicks' new thought-provoking novel is about Alice Young, a young black woman doing whatever she needs to do to protect her family/community at the beginning of the civil rights movement in Alabama.

It's 1957 and as Alice Young steps off the bus into the all-Black town of New Jessup, Alabama. New Jessup residents have largely rejected integration as their means for Black social advancement. Alice falls in love with Raymond Campbell, a young man who organizes activities that challenges the town's longstanding status quo and could lead to the young couple's expulsion from the home they hold dear. Alice must find a way to balance her support for his work with her desire to protect New Jessup she has come to love.

Thank you to the Davina at Book Browse for sending me a copy of this appealing book filled with warm and impassioned characters. It is a sympathetic look at a very complex matter.
Jennie W. (Denver, CO)

Moonrise Over New Jessup
This book captured me from the first page. The main character, Alice leaves the only home she has ever known only to find a new home she never knew she wanted. Her struggles and conviction carry her and her family through the civil rights era. The author does a masterful job at portraying a side of the civil rights movement that I had never read about before. Through beautiful language and descriptive storytelling, Jamila Minnicks paints a picture of an idyllic life in a small town in Alabama and trying to hold on to what you hold dear.
Louise E. (Ocean View, DE)

Interesting Point of View
This novel has an interesting view on segregation. It tells the story of Alice Young living in New Jessup Alabama in the late 1950's. The town is segregated and the black people living there don't want to change. Alice, black herself, came upon the town by chance and stayed. The people in the town were kind to her and helped her get started. She got a job, fell in love, got married and began raising a family there. I loved the author's use of language describing things like sunsets. It would be interesting to find out what happens next.
Margaret K. (Seekonk, MA)

Moonrise Over New Jessup
The author's description of Alabama in the late 50's and early 60's, at the beginning and in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, captures a time and feelings that have not been adequately described before. Her language is beautiful; as one of her characters says "You and your words. I think of you and your words when things get hard for me out here." A thought many readers will have about this book long after they have finished it.
Minnicks captures the worry and ambivalence of the Black community at the start of the movement as well as the conflicting feelings of deep love and searing pain a place and time can represent for those who lived it. The author leaves us with the hopeful path that "What we can do is live for, love and protect our community." This book is very special and gives us the magic that her heroine gave to those she loved. Should be required reading in high school history classes.
Rosemary C. (Golden, CO)

An Engrossing Novel
I became thoroughly engrossed in this book, drawn in by the elegant prose, the vivid characters and New Jessup, Alabama. Jamila Minnicks provides a careful examination of the differing viewpoints among members of this black community about the benefits and deficits of integration. I found myself feeling very protective of New Jessup and appreciating all the citizens there had achieved through their hard work and determination. I really enjoyed the book and think it would be an excellent book club selection. Also, I predict that readers who liked The Vanishing Half and The Prophets will be fans of Moonrise Over New Jessup.
Molly O. (Centennial, CO)

Unique view of Utopia
Historically there has been a longing for an idyllic life. In Jamila Minnicks' new offering, Moonrise Over New Jessup, a black community sees its hope for Utopia resides in segregation. Although all utopian dreams fail, the sincere desire and moral standing of the people of New Jessup make us wish that the dream is realized. Set in the 1960s amid the growing push for integration, the townsfolk, represented by characters Alice and Raymond and his close-knit family, long for a world in which they are not daily humiliated or bullied by the white people of Alabama. Building an independent world with free elections and schools: Raymond knows that by doing so he is preserving the legacy of generations of his family. Alice, his wife, his love, his best companion, and an outsider, comes to cherish this life as much as the generations of New Jessup residents.

While the book ends on a hopeful note, history has taught us that the outside world will encroach on this idealism. Minnicks' prose is lovely and she creates characters that we truly come to care for.
Power Reviewer
Julie M. (Coon Rapids, MN)

Civil Rights/Relationships
This story brings us to the all black community of New Jessup which seems like Utopia at first, but we quickly find out that the civil rights movement is present here as well. It shows us the complexities of the civil rights movement where the tensions are not just black verses white, but even the residents of New Jessup cannot agree on whether to integrate or desegregate.
Will the people who love this town have to leave or will they find a way to remain where they have built their lives? Good character development and a good plot. Highly recommended!

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