Reviewed by April Gardner
The Color of the Soul by Tracey
"...expertly written. Each character leaps off the page, straight into the reader's heart leaving an impression that will not be soon forgotten."
“…That skin of yours might be lighter than Delta’s, but you would do well to remember who you are and where you came from if you want to get along down here. We don’t spoil our coloreds the way the Yankees do.”
…Andy glared at Miss Penbrook. What did she know of being too white to be black and too black to be white?”
… “Miss Penbrook.” He kept his voice deliberately calm, a difficult task when he was forced to yell in order for her to hear every word he said. “May I begin the interview?”
... “You want to know all about me?”
“If you please.” Andy expelled a breath.
A smug smile showed toothless gums. “Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Sometimes knowledge is freedom, and sometimes it’s nothing but a chain around your neck.”
~ excerpt from Color of the Soul
1948 Georgia is not exactly a welcoming place if your skin is the wrong color, but invited by a dying old woman to write her biography, Andy returns to the home of his youth just the same. Over a hundred years old, Miss Penbrook has seen the worst part of Georgia’s history. A young woman during the last days of slavery, she survived the chaos of the Civil War and the long rebuilding of the South. This is the story she tells with a little help from three diaries written by three very different women.
“The Color of the Soul” is a split storyline jumping back and forth in time over the span of one hundred years. As the clock rolls back, Andy learns about Camilla and Catherina both white…at least on the outside. However, a drop of Negro blood has destined Cat to slavery. Will her secret be revealed, or might she pass her illegitimate son off as a wealthy plantation owner?
Camilla, filled with hatred toward the white slave girl that her mother holds as dear as her own flesh and blood, sees no other recourse than to end all possibilities for Cat’s happiness thus furthering her own.
Jumping forward to 1948, Andy sorts through these women’s past in an attempt to write the biography that will win him a name. In the process, his own shameful past is unburied.
His wife in Chicago doubts his fidelity and with good reason. The KKK is breathing down his neck, and God pounds incessantly on his heart’s door begging admittance.
In this intense historical novel, Bateman unashamedly unearths the most disgraceful segments of America’s past—its slavery, and later, its bigotry toward blacks. Unafraid to write how it was, her characters are both extreme and impassioned, either in their racism, or their hatred of it. She has also not ignored those caught in the middle who were “too black to be white and too white to be black.”
Not having been slack in her research, Bateman has produced a work expertly written. Each character leaps off the page, straight into the reader’s heart leaving an impression that will not be soon forgotten.
Her dual storyline divided by such a broad span of time is such a creative and unique approach to the Christian novel that the reader cannot help but pull an all-nighter.
Society has set its standards, yet Bateman accurately challenges them burrowing under the skin of the matter and revealing the true qualifier—the color of the soul.
April W Gardner writes adult and middle grade historical fiction. Her first novel, Wounded Spirits, releases with Vintage Romance Publishing in November of this year. She is a member of ACFW and reviews for Title Trakk, At Home With Christian Fiction, and FIRST Wild Card Blog Tours. A military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her darling Hubby. A homeschool mom, she fills her mornings talking fractions and phonics with her two sweet kiddos. In her free time, April enjoys reading, gardening, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian. Visit April's Website or her blog, A Writer's Journey. You can also get to know April on Facebook and Twitter.