About the Book:
An unforgettable story of two courageous women brought together by one extraordinary little girl
Betty Jewel Hughes was once the hottest black jazz singer in Memphis. But when she finds herself pregnant and alone, she gives up her dream of being a star to raise her beautiful daughter, Billie, in Shakerag, Mississippi. Now, ten years later, in 1955, Betty Jewel is dying of cancer and looking for someone to care for Billie when she's gone. With no one she can count on, Betty Jewel does the unthinkable: she takes out a want ad seeking a loving mother for her daughter.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, recently widowed Cassie Malone is an outspoken housewife insulated by her wealth and privileged white society. Working part-time at a newspaper, she is drawn to Betty Jewel through her mysterious ad. With racial tension in the South brewing, the women forge a bond as deep as it is forbidden. But neither woman could have imagined the gifts they would find in each other, and in the sweet young girl they both love with all their hearts. Deeply moving and richly evocative, The Sweetest Hallelujah is a remarkable tale about finding hope in a time of turmoil, and about the transcendent and transformative power of friendship.
I loved it. I loved the story. I loved the writing. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. Yes, I'm giving this one an A.
Set in Tupelo, Mississippi and its Black suburb, The Sweetest Hallelujah is the story of two women who are struggling with the hand life has dealt. Cassie is White, a woman without a man or a child in a world where women were defined by their relationship to men and children. Even when her husband was alive she wanted more than the life of a Southern housewife. Betty doesn't live far away, but lives in a totally different world in the segregated South--or does she? Yes, there is something that connects these women, and I'll admit that I found their friendship to be odd under the circumstances, but I liked them both so much I just decided to overlook it. I also found her family's reaction unexpected. While the exact circumstances faced by these woman may not have happened, I'm sure there were people during that time who reached across the racial divide; some loudly in Civil Right protests; others more quietly in personal relationships--and while the Civil Rights movement may have changed more lives, I suspect that personal relationships changed more hearts.
I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.