Forsaken
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Forsaken

3.85 (64 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

In April 1912 in Hampton, Virginia, white eighteen-year-old reporter Charles Mears covers his first murder case, a trial that roiled racial tensions. An uneducated African American girl, Virginia Christian, was tried for killing her white employer. "Virgie" died in the electric chair one day after her seventeenth birthday, the only female juvenile executed in Virginia history. Charlie tells the story of the trial and its aftermath. Woven into his narrative are actual court records, letters, newspaper stories, and personal accounts, reflecting the arc of history in characters large and small, in events local and global. Charlie falls in love with Harriet, a girl orphaned by the murder; meets Virgie's blind attorney George Fields, a former slave; and encounters physician Walter Plecker, a state official who pursues racial purity laws later emulated in Nazi Germany. There is much to admire in the pages of Forsaken, especially the vivid sense of time and place, Hampton Roads after the Civil War and Reconstruction. The novel's premise is ambitious, its events striking and tragic, and fiction and nonfiction are deftly blended in this powerful read on the themes of injustice, corruption, and racial conflict set in the poisonous epoch known as Jim Crow.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 30mm | 522g
  • NewSouth Books
  • Montgomery, Albania
  • English
  • 1588383172
  • 9781588383174

Flap copy

In April 1912 white, 18-year-old reporter Charles Mears covers his first murder case, a trial that roiled racial tensions in Hampton, Virginia. An uneducated black girl just five feet tall, Virginia Christian was tried for killing her white employer, a widow. "Virgie" died in the electric chair at the state penitentiary one day after her seventeenth birthday, the only female juvenile executed in Virginia history. Young Charlie tells the story of the trial and its aftermath. Woven into his narrative are actual court records, letters, newspaper stories, and personal accounts, reflecting the true arc of history in characters large and small, in events local and global. Charlie falls in love with Harriet, a girl orphaned by the murder; meets Virgie's blind attorney George Fields, a former slave; and encounters physician Walter Plecker, a state official who relentlessly pursues racial purity laws later emulated in Nazi Germany. There is much to admire in the pages of Forsaken, especially the wonderfully vivid sense of time and place, Hampton Roads after the Civil War and Reconstruction. The novel's premise is ambitious, its events striking and tragic, and fiction and reality are deftly blended. Yet despite the tragedy of this intriguing and well-crafted novel, its story is one of redemption and hope.show more

Review quote

"Forsaken is a fine first novel by Ross Howell Jr. Its rich textures and nuanced characters make Forsaken far more than simply a "message novel." A master of historical scene-setting, Howell is deft in evoking life a century ago in Hampton, Va. But with narrative points ranging from racial injustice and child sexual abuse to the vulnerability of gay people and the Dr. Mengele-like activities taking place at a state mental facility, Forsaken also channels a distinctly modern sensibility." -- Magazine of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Universityshow more

Rating details

64 ratings
3.85 out of 5 stars
5 28% (18)
4 41% (26)
3 22% (14)
2 8% (5)
1 2% (1)
Book ratings by Goodreads
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