Thank you to Sarah Hardy from @BOTBSPublicity for organising this tour and to Suzette D. Harrison, Bookouture and NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.
“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 Help, Orphan 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.
The Girl at the Back of the Bus is such a relevant novel and a stunning story spanning 3 decades of black women and their lives.
Mattie is on her way to make a life changing decision when a young lady on the bus (Rosa Parks) stands up for herself against white people and their privilege. This act makes her change her mind and therefore changing the direction of her life forever but also facing many struggles. Ashlee has returned to her family home after leaving her high-powered job. Her family have always been her safe place but she is about to discover a secret that may rock her foundations.
I adored the dual timeline/dual narration aspect of this book. Such a clever way of showing how racism may have changed but how it still exists. What I found scary is how in modern society, racism (and sexism) is more often displayed in such underhand, sneaky ways allowing it to happen by never overtly being racist. While some things have forward, what is striking from reading this novel, (and other information) is that racism is still very much alive and people have just found different, and more sly ways to do it to avoid repercussions.
Both Mattie and Ashlee are strong female characters, who face adversity in different ways. What they have in common is the unwavering and absolute love of their families and the people around them.
As well as racism, this novel also tackles interracial marriages and relationships, sexism, teenage pregnancy, death and families and the contrast between the different times. The similarities and contrasts are fascinating.
This beautiful story is told in an engaging way. It’s such an emotional rollercoaster with heart-warming and heart breaking moments and some stark realities. I loved taking both Mattie and Ashlee’s journey with them and I though their stories were amazingly told.
Author Bio – 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 Suzette 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 of two teens, and she holds a culinary degree in pastry and baking. Mrs. Harrison is currently cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cupcakes.