Monday, September 6, 2010

Indiana by N.C. Weyl

How does the child of a minister, a girl suddenly thrown into a community of poverty, racism, and indifference, resolve the conflict of good and evil for herself, especially when the dilemma extends to sending an innocent man to prison?  In N.C. Weyl’s moving and sometimes disturbing novel Indiana, this question is analyzed from the viewpoints of many townspeople, but is perhaps most clearly addressed by Sam, the girl who witnesses a terrible crime, and her brother Tyler, a boy whose voice brings wisdom and even philosophy to the story.  In the 1930’s, Indiana still boasted an active Ku Klux Klan, and separation of the races was not only mandated, but essential to co-existence.  Weyl explores many facets of this era, from intermarriage to mixed-raced children, and the thin line between disapproval and violence.  Perhaps most compelling in this multi-faceted novel-based-on-fact is not so much the choice Sam must finally make for herself, but what we learn, with her, about making the hard choice between compassion and the truth. (Taken from the back of the book)

Normally, as I’m reading a book I’ll be formulating what I want to say in the review at  the same time.  I have to admit, I’m almost at a loss for words on this book.  As I was reading,  no review thoughts were formulating.  Well, to be honest, I was a bit disappointed in the editing.  Other than that, however, nothing.  I was so drawn into the story that I just couldn’t bother worrying about what I was going to write in my review, so here I am attempting to figure out how to word it all.

Reading the back of the book, I was expecting a nice coming of age tale with a dark twist.  That isn’t what I got.  Yes, it’s definitely a coming of age tale with a dark twist, but it’s so much more.  I found myself transported to the 1930’s in rural Indiana.  Growing up an Indiana girl, it wasn’t too difficult to imagine, but you get the point.  The reality of the time is that racism was running rampant and being hidden incredibly well.  Sam and her family move to Indiana and find that their open-minded views on people of different colors aren’t readily accepted.  Though this isn’t what the entire story is about, it is the part that really sprung out at me.  The pure hatred and vile mannerisms of people who are scared of something different or not understood.  Even though the story doesn’t go too in depth about the atrocities that some of the KKK were capable of, Weyl has a way of telling the story that leaves you breathless and terrified.

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