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Staff blog

Big Texas Reads

Read BIG this week with our Texas-themed #FridayReads!

Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett

Set in the early twentieth century, Jam on the Vine follows Ivoe Williams, a young African American woman who perseveres through the South during the height of Jim Crow.  As a child, Ivoe steals a newspaper from her mother’s white employer, and through journalism, escapes the rigid segregation of east-central Texas.  Then, as a young woman, Ivoe earns a scholarship to study journalism at a prestigious Austin college, however, when she returns to Little Tunis, her hometown, Ivoe is overqualified for the menial labor white employers offer her.  As the summer of 1919 heats up with race riots and lynchings throughout the Midwest, Ivoe and her family migrate to Kansas City, Missouri, where she and her former teacher Ona start Jam on the Vine, an African American newspaper.  Should Ivoe risk her freedom and her life to expose the atrocities of segregation? 

News of the World by Paulette Giles

Take a 400-mile journey throughout post-Civil War Texas with Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd as he travels from Wichita Falls to San Antonio.  Captain Kidd is known throughout northern Texas as a traveling news reader; he travels from town to town and shares the news of the world to paying audiences.  However now in the twilight of his life, Captain Kidd, a widow and two-war veteran, reluctantly takes on a new role: he is agrees to return a captive child back to her family.  For four years, Johanna lived as a Kiowa captive after her parents and siblings were killed in an attack.  Now, as Johanna, makes her way back to her distant relatives, Johanna needs to relearn the English language and culture.  Traveling through dangerous unchartered territory, the duo eventually arrives in San Antonio, but Captain Kidd must now decide whether or not to leave Johanna with her aunt and uncle, or become a kidnapper himself to give her the life she deserves.     

Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham

When recently orphaned eleven year old Cathy Benson is forced to leave her privileged California life to move to the small town of Kersey, Texas, she feels like her world is turning upside down.  In California, culture and intellect were held in high regard, but now in Texas, football reigns supreme.  Luckily two gridiron stars, John Caldwell and Trey Don Hall, take Cathy under their wings, and the three become inseparable forming somewhat of a love triangle that follows them throughout their lives.  From high school graduation to tragic events, Tumbleweeds follows John’s, Trey Don’s, and Cathy’s intertwined futures for forty years in this sweeping saga of drama, strong personalities, and plot twists.  Leila Meacham, best-selling author of Roses and Somerset, does not disappoint in this epic story featuring her hallmark staples of romance, family, and mystery.          



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