Mattie and Ashlee — The Girl at the Back of the Bus , ARC Book Review

The Girl at the Back of the Bus: An absolutely heart-wrenching historical novel by [Suzette D. Harrison]

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.

No. of pages:- 310 pages

Date published:- 8th February 2021

Genre:- Historical fiction

1956- Mattie is sixteen, colored and pregnant–with a White boy child. She also witnessed Rosa Parks getting arrested for sitting at the white section, one of the pivotal moments in the Civil Rights History. Though Mattie is pregnant she is actually very studious and wants to become a writer…
Present Day – Ashlee is a successful lawyer but loses her promotion in the law firm to someone else. She is also in a relationship with Brad, who is White. She then gets the news that her Nana is on the deathbed and then rushes to be by her.

This story really moved me. I have studied about the civil rights movement in the American history and so the story it self was emotional and gripping. I like the lifestyle Mattie Banks had back when they are segregated and Ashlee who is able to live in privilege. The story is well written and the author did a good job, catching the reader into the story. The characters to me are all likable, particularly Mattie. This story reminded me a little from the book The Help, where at that time, in the South, Black women worked as maids to the White people houses. Mattie’s mother worked as a maid in Stanton Household, a privileged white family and their son, Edward was the father of Mattie’s unborn child. I mean, I couldn’t literally believe that many years ago, these things happened in real life, the segregation, the racial injustice but thanks to civil rights, Black people are able to live freely though still there is some racial injustice. The story is so realistic that sometimes, you couldn’t believe that things happened in real life.

Overall I rate this book as five stars!

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Suzette D. Harrison

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 Mrs. Harrison 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 who holds a culinary degree in Pastry & Baking. Mrs. Harrison is currently cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cupcakes.

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