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Blog Tour: The Girl at the Back of the Bus by Suzette D. Harrison

Published: February 8th, 2021
Publisher Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this powerful novel. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

I watched in awe as Miz Rosa stopped those men on the bus with her clear, calm “no” and I thought about that word. What if I said no? What if I refused to follow the path these White folks wanted for us? What if I kept this precious baby?

Montgomery, Alabama, 1955
On a cold December evening, Mattie Banks packs a suitcase and leaves her family home. Sixteen years old and pregnant, she has already made the mistake that will ruin her life and disgrace her widowed mother. Boarding the 2857 bus, she sits with her case on her lap, hoping that the driver will take her away from disaster. Instead, Mattie witnesses an act of bravery by a woman named Rosa Parks that changes everything. But as Mattie strives to turn her life around, the dangers that first led her to run are never far away. Forging a new life in a harsh world at constant risk of exposure, Mattie will need to fight to keep her baby safe.

Atlanta, Georgia, present day
Ashlee Turner is going home. Her relationship in ruins, her career held back by prejudice, she is returning to the family who have always been her rock. But Ashlee’s home is not the safe haven she remembers. Her beloved grandmother is dying and is determined to share her story before she leaves…

When Ashlee finds a stack of yellowing letters hidden in her nana’s closet, she can’t help the curiosity that compels her to read, and she uncovers an old secret that could wreak havoc on her already grieving family. As she tries to make sense of what she has learned, Ashlee faces a devastating choice: to protect her loved ones from the revelations, or honor her grandmother’s wishes and follow the path to the truth, no matter where it may lead.

For readers of The HelpOrphan Train and Before We Were Yours comes a beautiful and heartbreaking novel about redemption, family secrets and the spirit of survival found at the hardest time.

MY REVIEW:

“My right mind knew my life and so much more depended on my silence, but clearly I wasn’t finished being that girl from the back of the bus.” 

A story of an ordinary family that is told through the eyes of the matriarch, Mattie, in 1950s Alabama, and her granddaughter Ashlee, in modern-day Georgia, exploring themes of motherhood, dignity, prejudice, injustice and the fight for equality. 

Opening with Mattie taking the same bus ride as Ms. Rosa Parks on that infamous day she refused to give up her seat, the author blends historical moments with the fictional story of Mattie’s family that give it a strong sense of authenticity and impactfulness. Moving seamlessly between the dual timelines, we see how the two women face similar obstacles and dilemmas sixty years apart despite the changes in society.

“It was a belittling ballet played to the melody of racism”

The author has filled the novel with a multitude of strong, fierce and fascinating women that I loved reading. We only see Mattie’s mother Dorothy and Ashlee’s mother Savannah through the eyes of their daughters, but they both could have carried chapters of their own. It is clear they are a tribe of dynamic, indomitable women. And of course we have the woman who’s quiet but deafening protest kickstarts it all; Rosa Parks. Witnessing the illustrious Ms. Parks refusing to give up her seat that day in December 1955 is what gives Mattie the courage to stand up against the injustices she faces. The author transports you back to fifties America, allowing you to walk in Mattie’s shoes for a short time and offering a greater understanding of the inequalities she faced that I knew nothing about, such as having to get off the bus after paying to get on again at the back.

Powerful, thought-provoking, captivating and inspiring, this is a remarkable novel with a timeless message. I am looking forward to reading more from this author and highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the genre. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Suzette D. Harrison, a native Californian and the middle of three daughters, grew up in a home where reading was required, not requested. Her literary “career” began in junior high school with the publishing of her poetry. While Suzette pays homage to Alex Haley, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison as legends who inspired her creativity, it was Dr. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that unleashed her writing. The award-winning author of Taffy is a wife and mother of two teens, and she holds a culinary degree in pastry and baking. Mrs. Harrison is currently cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cupcakes. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon* | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers on the tour.

Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

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