Reviewer: Robyn Roberts
Title: Catching Moondrops
Author: Jennifer Erin Valent
Release Date: October 2010
Genre/Sub-genre: Inspirational Fiction
Year/Setting: 1938 Calloway, Virginia
Overall Rating: 3.5
Sexual Content Rating: None
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: Minimal
Jennifer's Website/Blog: www.jennifervalent.com
Jessilyn Lassiter is almost nineteen and deeply in love with Luke Talley. She is waiting for him to return from his business trip when three men (one injured) arrive on her doorstep. They are looking for Gemma, Jessilyn’s best friend. Gemma was a black girl who was orphaned that the Lassiter’s took in and raised as one of their own. Gemma had worked for the previous doctor and knows a little bit about medicine. One of the three men identifies himself as the new doctor in town, Tal Pritchett. He’s a young black doctor coming to start a practice for the black people in the region of Calloway.
Having a black man who is a doctor stirs the pot of racial trouble and small events begin to happen that point to the KKK being active again (or still) in the town of Calloway. Jessilyn still remembers burning crosses and lynchings. She’s worried for Gemma and for Tal as well. Things come to a head when Miss Cleta, Jessilyn’s neighbor, decides to have Tal treat her instead of going to a white doctor. The town is up in arms with a white woman seeing a black doctor and the Klu Klux Klan decides to make an example of the doctor, some black men in town and anyone else who comes into contact with black people.
When innocent lives are ripped apart because of the KKK, Jessilyn finds a place in her heart she didn’t know existed. It’s a dark place where vengeance becomes a priority. Hurting those who hurt you becomes ok. And considering death for the KKK who have already killed becomes an accepted end. She longs to see peace in her town, but the battle waging inside between peace and vengeance is the biggest battle she’s ever faced.
I wasn’t sure if I would like a book featuring the KKK in a pretty large role. I’m from the north, lived in the south for a while and have seen the destruction that can occur in lives filled with prejudice and hate for other humans. I don’t want to see prejudice celebrated in books…and I was surprised at the delicate way Jennifer Erin Valent worked around the KKK. She didn’t celebrate what they did. In fact, she ended up painting a picture of what happens at that kind of prejudice and violence—and a picture often speaks louder than words.
The story weaves in and out of Jessilyn and Luke’s blooming romance. Their romance is directly affected by the actions of prejudice in their town. It also highlights the blossoming relationship between Gemma and the new doctor, Tal. And how love and goodness can be so easily overshadowed by prejudice and hate.
I thought it was a story that needed to be shared and is important to show younger generations the consequences of hate. But, there were a lot of sideline stories going on and the first third of the book seemed to be catching us up on back-story. There was a fairly large section of the book that seemed to drag on and didn’t appear to be heading anywhere. I felt like we were wandering in circles around the same issue. When the issues came to a head, the book really spurred forward and was a much faster read.
Overall, I enjoyed watching young love bloom between Gemma and Tal and Jessilyn and Luke. I liked some of the people who weren’t afraid to stand up for what is good and pure and right. I didn’t like those who promoted prejudice and hate and fear—and I thought that was a good thing to dislike. I think Jennifer Erin Valent gets her intended message across without preaching to us. She weaves a story and allows us to see the consequences of our actions…and lets each of us search our own hearts to root out the evil, hate and prejudice we find in ourselves.
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