Forsaken

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NewSouth Books, Dec 15, 2015 - Fiction - 320 pages
1 Review
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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. 

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - skstiles612 - LibraryThing

I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own. This book was the story of Virginia Christian, the youngest African American female to be executed. Virginia ... Read full review

FORSAKEN

User Review  - Kirkus

After a 16-year-old black girl is convicted of killing her employer in 1912 Virginia, a young white journalist becomes embroiled in the aftermath. Howell uses the real-life story of Virginia Christian ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

My Testament
5
Black Woman Held
10
Inquest
21
Orphan Girls
38
Maebelles Biscuits
48
Only Brother
57
Red
69
SymsEaton Academy
78
So Long
169
Coming Home
181
Changes
191
These Truths
203
Nickel Baby
212
Lorelei
220
The Bower
229
First Lady
239

Inez
87
Day One
97
Sentencing
108
Haunted
116
Pride of the Line
125
George Jr
133
Cock Robin
143
Golden Eagle
155
AngloSaxon
250
The Colony
259
Bear Mountain
272
Fugitives
279
White Deer
288
Mount Nebo
298
Acknowledgments
307
Copyright

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About the author (2015)

Ross Howell Jr. earned an MFA in the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, and then pursued a career in marketing and publishing. His fiction has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Sewanee Review, Gettysburg Review, and other publications. He has also taught essay writing, fiction writing, and literature at Harvard University, Simmons College, the University of Iowa, the University of Virginia, and Elon University. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Forsaken is his first novel.

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