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BOOK REVIEW: The Souls of Clayhatchee by Anthony Carlisle

This 170-page thriller is a must-read novel about Southern history and family ties, generational racism, and a cryptic murder that casts is shadow across on James Kingsman fulfilling his mother's dying wish.

The Souls of Clayhatchee beautifully paints scenes of Alabama and focuses on James’s family dynamic, and his developed understanding of his family history.

Though, it is no secret James hates the South— much of his family’s history and secrets rest there. Like many Black families migrated north for better opportunities, James discovers his father did not migrate— he escaped, and his mother kept an even deeper secret.

I love how the title is attentive to every detail of James’s life, illustrated the current culture, music and foods that specifically represent regional cultures and communities. Throughout this novel, you will continuously find references to James’s life before turning to Alabama for the burial of his mother and this insight is essential, to understand some of his disconnect to the south.

When James halfheartedly agrees to his mother's last wish to be buried in hometown of Clayhatchee, Alabama, some of his conclusions and notions about southern relatives are shaken with his recent discoveries about his parents.

James was raised by his parents, who were a part of the Great Migration, though the family’s move from Alabama was years before James’s birth… much of James’s connection to his Southern heritage is via oral history and shared stories.

This title is a perfect title for exploring how the Great Migration shaped Black Families, a great exploration of how misconceptions of Southern history snubs Southern narratives, and the importance of reconnecting with family history— as with James and his family, truth is surely a currency that the family spends well. This title will be released on May 4, 2021.


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