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Truth Is in the House book review.



Truth Is In the House is a novel inspired by true events, and follows the lives of two very different boys who come of age in 1950s America.

Jimmy O’Farrell is an Irish immigrant whose family ends up in Manhattan, ready for a new life. Jaylen Jackson comes of age in Jim Crow Mississippi, fighting prejudice over the color of his skin as he seeks a different, better future for himself.

Jimmy learns what it means to stand up for himself and others, while Jaylen learns how to survive racial strife and prejudice. The lives of both intersect in a novel that goes beyond closely examining the racial stereotypes and boundaries of the past. It shatters them.

As the story opens, father Matthew O’Farrell and his wife are confronting the terrible realization that their new life in the land of opportunity holds a brutal undercurrent as the news reveals the brutal rape and murder of an Irish ten-year-old girl only two blocks from their home. This introduces newfound fear into mother Bettina’s world, leading them to question their revised lives and the place they’ve chosen to call home and raise their children.

Jimmy and Jaylen’s families both decide to flee their oppressive circumstances in the 1960s and wind up in the Bronx as neighbors, where the two young men of different races form a friendship over basketball and again in Vietnam, during the war.

Jaylen has come to feel alienated from his family as he leaves home for college and embraces new ideas and a new world: “He never felt disconnected from his family before, but that is precisely how he feels. The thought of family brings him down.”

But the forces of Jim Crow are at work in a wide net of threat that exists, as Jaylen discovers, even in this new environment: “Their next off-campus excursion is an evening meal in town. Jaylen pushes for a local diner called Mama Tucker’s, known for its local-style food. Tyrell pushes back. He hears that Mama Tucker’s may have great food but caters to Jim Crow. As someone who grew up in Georgia, the close runner-up to Mississippi as the lynching capital of America, Tyrell’s social antennae tell him that venturing into a diner clinging to a debased part of Southern history is at the top of the leader board of where young Blacks ought not to go.”

Michael J. Coffino is skilled at presenting a contrast in different forms of prejudice (the Irish immigrant and the American black son) in a tale that brings it all home. He is skilled at positioning his characters to make the most of this disparity, creating a story that is winning in its contrasts and encounters.

As the plot unfolds, fear, shame, and the impact of new decisions and challenging opportunities invite both characters to find alternate paths to redemption and peace.

Coffino’s ability to bring to life and contrast these incongruent yet connected lives creates a vivid read that is hard to put down. Its central theme, rooted in real-world events, gives Truth Is In the House an edge over most fictional stories of prejudice, struggle, and missed opportunities. This personalizes historical events and social environments, lending depth to a book that should be on the reading lists of any interested in the history and evolution of Jim Crow era thinking as it leads into modern times and events.

Sunshine and the Full Moon book review.


Synopsis: A werewolf attack. A missing girl. A teenager scratching and scrapping for every asthmatic breath in the clutches of evil.

Sunshine Robins is having a summer to forget. First, the sassy softball superstar breaks her arm during a heroic home run, and now her trip to the California Gold Country has taken a frightening turn as a geocaching exploration leads to the terrifying discovery of a shapeshifting creature lurking beneath the streets of Dathanville.

As she puts the pieces together about the town’s haunting past, a determined Sunshine must fight through her own bouts of anxiety and fear as she stares down the devilish beast looking to destroy Dathanville… one victim at a time.

A suspenseful adventure bustling with mystery and monsters, it all ignites with a line drive and a silver bullet.

Critique: Award-winning author and journalist Jon Robinson presents Sunshine and the Full Moon, a suspenseful young adult novel written especially for young adults and teens, yet thoroughly engrossing for werewolf fans of all ages. Sunshine Robins is a smart, strong-willed softball athlete who must confront a terrible menace in the small town of Dathanville. Anxiety and asthma threaten to drag her down, as surely as the savage claws of an unknown beast targeting victims one at a time! Sunshine and the Full Moon is highly recommended especially for high school and public library YA fantasy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Sunshine and the Full Moon is also available in a Kindle edition ($0.99).