Just out in paperback this past week is Deborah Johnson's acclaimed debut novel, The Air Between Us. I just learned about this book, and after reading more about it, I can't wait to start it. Revere, Mississippi, with its population of "20,000 and sinking," is not unlike most Southern towns in the 1960s. Blacks live on one side of town and whites on the other. The two rarely mix. Or so everyone believes. But the truth is brought to the forefront when Critter, who is only ten, black and barely tall enough to see over the dashboard, drives Billy Ray—wounded in a suspicious hunting accident—to the segregated Doctor's Hospital. Dr. Cooper Connelly, the town's most high-profile resident, assures Billy Ray's family he'll be fine. He dies, however, and most people assume it is just a typical hunting accident—until the sheriff orders an investigation.
Suddenly the connections between white and black are revealed to be deeper than anyone expects, which makes the town's struggle with integration that much more complicated and consuming. Dr. Connelly takes an unexpectedly progressive view toward integration; the esteemed Dr. Reese Jackson, who is so prominent that even Ebony has profiled him, tries to stay above the fray. At times, it seems the town's only distraction is the racially ambiguous Madame Melba, a fortune-teller and "voyeur" with a past.
Booklist said "this heartwarming novel will strike a chord with fans of Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees." For the paperback publication, a contest was held in which booksellers were asked to send in reading group questions for the book. The store that sent in the best questions had them published in the back of the paperback. Interestingly, Brunswick Bookland in Brunswick, Maine was the winning store and you can see their great questions about this book set in the South here. You can browse inside the book here.
I've got ten copies of The Air Between Us to give away, simply post a comment about why you'd like to read the book and you'll be entered to win. I'll pick ten winners randomly from all entries received by midnight Wednesday April 1st.