Ione has everything she’d wanted with her busy shop filled to the brim with sumptuous fabrics, gossiping debutants, and a neatly increasing profit margin. Not to mention the unexpected attention of a man who doesn’t know her past.
And then the letter dropped from the mail slot onto to lush carpet. He was back. And the abuse, the shame, rushes in, reminding her of how unworthy she really is.
Miriam also has everything she’d wanted—and with a baby on the way, for the first time in her life, she has everything to lose. When she’d been alone, the future had held promise, but now with her life full, it also holds fear. Unwilling to risk a vision of loss, Miriam stops painting what will be…right before Ione needs it most.
Guest Post from Cara Luecht
The moment you realize how subtle racism can be.
As someone of Northern European ancestry, I approach this topic with caution and with the knowledge that I can never fully understand racism in America from a personal perspective. That being said, part of me knows that unless white America owns up to the problems that still exist, they will never go away, or if they do, they will not go away because of what I have done. I don’t want to be on the right side of history as a spectator.
Writing Soul’s Cry was daunting, because the main character in this part of the trilogy is African American. I’ll tackle the challenges with that in another blog. For now, I want to talk about one simple example of ongoing racism.
A few months ago, my publisher contacted me looking for inspiration pictures for the cover. The picture I had pinned to my desktop for Ione was from the 1800s, and heaven-only-knows how I would find permission to use it. Besides, it was in black-and-white, and we needed something that would go well with the other covers in the trilogy.
I went to the popular sites that cover designers use to look for modern pictures of women, in Victorian Era clothes, who had the smart, determined expression I’d imagined for Ione.
I found a bunch of models–problem is, they were all white.
I then typed in “African American Victorian Woman.” One picture. And she was dressed as a burlesque dancer. Nice. I tried “Black woman in 1890,” a bit miffed that I had to use the term “Black” rather than “African American”—nothing. I got desperate, rolled my eyes, and even attempted the archaic “Negro woman in 1890” in hopes of getting something…nothing.
I tried other sites. I found the same problem.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised—when you think of a high-society Victorian woman, does an African American face come to mind?
This doesn’t match up with the truth, though. In the late Victorian era, there was a thriving, influential, African American community in Chicago as well as many other major cities. While there were indeed crowded ghetto areas, the “Black Elite” prospered in the medical and legal professions.
Unfortunately, we rarely hear of these remarkable people who moved beyond the place society had deemed was theirs, who built on the humble foundation of literacy, who pushed innovation forward, who served on boards and cultural societies, and who worked to pull their families out of the devastation of slavery and the Civil War.
It is uncomfortable to admit, but the picture that comes to mind when thinking of an African American in the late 1800s has more in common with slaves than with a prosperous, thriving community.
And since poor African Americans outnumbered wealthy ones, I suppose one could make the argument that this reflected how a majority of African Americans lived. And that would be true…
…but it would also be true for whites. One of my grandfathers was born in an Iowa coal town. Another, into the dust bowl conditions of North Dakota. In fact, if I look back in my own history, almost every one of my ancestors lived in poverty.
So why is it that when I think about a Victorian Era woman, the picture that comes to mind looks like someone from the set of Meet Me In St. Louis.
And here’s the twist…because the picture of the woman in my mind looks a bit like me (in that we are both white), her poise, the no-nonsense posture and expression…it makes me feel a bit of pride—even though I have no real connection with her. The fact is, I can look at these old pictures and see in her the determination I hope to have. I want to live up to this woman’s expectations. As crazy as it sounds, when I look at these pictures, I feel pride in a heritage I do not own. My family was in poverty, but because of these pictures, I can identify with affluence. Prosperity does not feel like a foreign concept.
Now imagine that every picture of a white woman I saw as representative of my past looked haggard, tired, and hopeless.
I’ll leave the implications for you to puzzle out.
Award winnning author, Cara Luecht, lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara works as an English Instructor for a local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.
You can find Cara on:
Book Review by Bree Herron
I really enjoy when an author goes and creates a unique story surrounding a time period that has been told many times but this time it is from a very unique person’s tale. I think that this author was gentle in her manner of finding the perfect balance in telling story and adding some history. Ione story kept me wanting more, and I was happy to read this book.
Ione is a character that I can truly just like. She was soft spoken at times, had a heart full of hope and promise. I really loved that the mystery of her past fluttered through the pages and kept you engaged with Ione. She is a hard working woman, and one that like many of us has a past that we aren’t the most proud of, but she has worked to become the person God has wanted her to be.
Miriam is a mommy to be, and this was fun as I can recall the feelings she was hosted to during the story. But I do not have the ability to paint the future from visions. It is one that holds a deep clutch to this poor lady, but her love for Ione has her torn as well. I really loved that she moved in society so nicely, even though she was not born there. She had a heart of gold as a friend through this story.
I was inspired by Ione’s strength to keep raising up even when she might be kicked down. It was a nice reminder that we are all needing to keep raising up even when we feel like falling down. I didn’t want her story to end with this novel.
I think that it can be a complicated issue to write from another cultures perspective and this author truly did a beautiful job of creating a fictional character and story that showed some history and was deeply respectful of the character that she made. I really loved reading this book with a hint of suspense and a heart full of hope. I recommend it readers wanting a new style in christian fiction that has a depth that many haven’t mastered.
Soul’s Cry is my first time reading a book by this author, have you read her stories?
**DISCLAIMER: I was provided an opportunity to read this book as an Advanced Reader Copy in return for a fair and honest review.
- Connie’s History Classroom, January 23
- Blogging With Carol, January 24
- Simple Harvest Reads, January 24 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)
- allofakindmom, January 25
- Avid Reader Book Reviews, January 26
- Pursuing Stacie, January 26
- A Reader’s Brain, January 27
- proud to be an autism mom, January 28
- Bigreadersite, January 28
- Bibliophile Reviews, January 29
- A Greater Yes, January 30
- margaret kazmierczak, January 30 (Interview)
- Texas Book-aholic, January 31
- Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 1
- Janices book reviews, February 2
- Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 3
- Carpe Diem, February 4
- A Baker’s Perspective, February 5
To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a grand prize of signed copies of the entire series!!! Find out all the details and enter to WIN at Soul’s Cry Celebration Tour Giveaway.
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