The cover designer did Hale Meserow, the author of this exquisitely written story no favors. Because of this cover, I kept placing the book at the bottom of my “to be read” pile. What a treasure I’d been missing! I assumed from the cover that this was an “old south, Ku Klux Klan” type of story and that it would be teary beyond belief.
To quote the back cover blurb, “A Love story, a tale of immense personal courage, a gritty fight against entrenched racism, and a life lived in God’s care, all set in the beautiful back country of western North Carolina and the frenetic bustle of New York City…. ‘Castles of the Heart’ relates the life of Starlight O’Bannion, a bright girl growing up in the heart of the South in the years leading up to World War II. In the face of virulent redneck oppression Negroes, Starlight’s treasured companions are a black family living in the nearby forest.” What would you think?
Just goes to show you that covers are not necessarily the way to judge a book. I was given a copy of this book by Carpenter’s Son Publishing to review and must admit I was feeling guilty about not reading it, especially when “nudged” a couple of times by the publicist. I dreaded reading another Southern white-black story. Was I wrong!
Star O’Bannion did grow up in the South and her mama made ‘shine’ to support them. They barely got by, but Mama came from good Boston stock and valued education. Star was very bright and skipped several grades due to her mama’s tutelage when she was younger. She entered the University of North Carolina at not quite-sixteen and had a brilliant career there. She apprenticed to an attorney to earn money for her tuition. He was so impressed he asked her to get her law degree and come into the firm. That was the start of a career that would jump from North Carolina, to New York, to North Carolina with plenty of romance and adventure in between. I can promise you you will love every word – a book well worth buying and keeping to read again.