I am very moved to think of times in our country's not too distant past when relationships between white people and black people were anything but equal. I'm not unaware of the fact that there are many places still in our country where people are mistreated or looked down upon because of the color of their skin. There are many reasons why I think this is appalling, but this is a book review, not a soapbox; so I will not digress.
In The Sleeping Night, Isaiah High has come back from World War 2 to Gideon, Texas. He is determined to leave again as soon as he fulfills a promise to a dear older neighbor. Because in Gideon is the woman he loves but can never have. Isaiah is black. Angel is white. And in Gideon, Texas in the 1940s, both of their lives could be in danger because of it.
This was a beautiful story. I can only describe it as beautiful. The language was poetical. The descriptions were detailed. I felt for Angel and Isaiah. I felt as if I was there, experiencing the deep hatred and unfairness of the times. I cheered for Angel, the strong and determined heroine. I ached for Isaiah, the very real and bitter hero. I was very moved by their plot.
Barbara Samuel does an excellent job relating the atmosphere in the deep south during those turbulent times. And the comparisons between the treatment of the blacks and Hitler's treatment of the Jews in World War 2 were very thought provoking. She uses letters interspersed throughout the chapters to describe the horrors of war that Isaiah faced and to help us understand the current relationship between Angel and Isaiah.
There is some sexual description- very minor and definitely not gratuitous. There is a deep spirituality throughout the novel as Angel and Isaiah both struggle to make sense of God's plan throughout the tragedies they face. It's definitely not marketed as a Christian novel with the sex and some strong language, but it does ask (and answer) some of the same questions that a Christian novel would ask from the same perspective.
I give this one a strong 5 stars and an R rating for sexual references and language.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.