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Lay that Trumpet in Our Hands

Lay that Trumpet in Our Hands
Author: Susan Carol McCarthy
ISBN 13: 9780553381030
ISBN 10: 553381032
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: 2003-04-01
Format: Paperback
Pages: 281
List Price: $16.00

Here is one of those rare and remarkable debuts that herald the appearance of a major new talent on the literary scene. Inspired by real events, Lay That Trumpet In Our Hands is a wise and luminous story about a northern family, a southern town, and the senseless murder that sparks an extraordinary act of courage.

To this day, my family is in disagreement as to precisely when the nightmare began. For me, it was the morning Daddy and Luther discovered Marvin, beaten, shot, and dying, in the Klan’s stomping grounds off Round Lake Road. My brother Ren disagrees. He points to the small cluster of scars that begin just outside his left eye and trail horizontally across his temple to the top of his ear. Ren claims it started when the men in white robes took the unprecedented step of shooting at two white children. Others say it was when Mr. Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP and Mr. Hoover’s FBI came to town. Mother and Daddy shake their heads. In their minds, the real beginning was much earlier....

Publishers Weekly

Basing her first novel on real events in central Florida in 1951, McCarthy offers an evocative if overly familiar picture of the racist South at the start of the civil rights movement. She tells her story through the eyes of 12-year-old Reesa McMahon, whose transplanted Yankee parents are relative newcomers in the small community of Mayflower. The local Opalakee Klan terrorizes and murders young black citrus picker Marvin Cully, who works for the McMahons' growing and shipping company. Aware that the local police are corrupt Klan members, Reesa's father decides to contact the FBI. Soon, NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall is called in to the case, and barely escapes with his life when the Klan attempts to abduct him. Bombings of black housing projects and Jewish congregations occur in other parts of Florida. When the leader of Florida's NAACP and his wife are murdered in Miami, there are indications that the Opalakee Klan is involved. Because he decides to cooperate with the FBI investigation, Reesa's father puts the family into danger. Reesa is an engaging narrator, obsessed with the murder of her friend Marvin, slowly becoming aware of the virulent hatred and bigotry that coexists with their neighbors' generosity, good manners and Baptist spiritual fervor. As McCarthy establishes the domestic and social routines of an inbred community, she also takes pains to render Reesa as an impressionable preadolescent, though she credits her with insights beyond her age. Still, the sincerity of her tale and its simple telling would make the book as interesting to young adult readers as it will be to those who remember or want to learn about the tangled moral questions of the '50s. Agent, Lane Zachary. (Feb.) FYI: In researching her novel, McCarthy had access to FBI files sealed for 40 years. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.