Tallulah, Louisiana in 1899 was a time of racial strife. Black and white where segregated and the Sicilians belonged to neither group. Brought to Louisiana to work in the cotton fields, the Sicilians left the plantations to build their own businesses, purchase land and plant produce and thrive. It was difficult navigating the relationships and social norms in a time of discord.
This is the story of fourteen year old Calogero, his uncles and cousins. Calogero arrives in Louisiana from Sicily following the death of his mother. His uncles put him to work in their produce store. He learns English quickly with the help of a tutor. Calogero’s English is a great asset in the store since his uncles speak little English. The success of the store and the Sicilians friendship with the black community build to strife with the white community. This strife builds until a mob takes the lives of the Sicilians in its hands and Calogero must run for his life.
Based on research of the period including newspaper and court reports, the story tells how people react to imagined threats to their lifestyles. How discrimination feeds an environment where no one is truly safe. 288 pages
Review provided by:
Barbara Fiehn, Assistant Professor
Western Kentucky University