Three women - Three Timelines

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This story is told in three timelines: the Civil War the time of Nathaniel and Mary Balsam; the Detroit riots of the 1960s when Nora Balsam fell in love with the wrong man; and the present, when Elizabeth Balsam discovers previously unknown relatives as she is struggling with the feeling that she is “utterly lost and confused”. The connection these three women have is explained through their experiences with interracial relationships and the heartbreaking consequences that a bigoted, narrow-minded society can wreak.

These timelines reinforce that some things never change. Racism, intolerance, inequity, hateful behavior find their way in each generational segment of this book. We always hope for better things but as we know history has a way of repeating itself. This story hurts on so many levels. Hidden love, guilty love, love that is rejected by the population at large, and the lovers who have to fight for their small bit of happiness that should be sacrosanct.

There is a mystery to be unraveled, a family tree that needs to be followed, its branches begging for discovery. The descriptions are interesting, the dialog flowing.The twists are subtle, insidious and of the left field variety. This author has tackled a thorny, complicated topic and brought fresh eyes and voices to the challenge of relating history without grandstanding and haranguing her audience. I liked the book even while I was getting angry, feeling uncomfortable and comprehending unnecessary hurt so easily inflicted.