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November 01, 2023
The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store is on the indie booksellers bestsellers list this week. This is the latest from James McBride, best known for his memoir The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother. The Color of Water was published in 1996 and is already considered a classic, taught in high schools and colleges around the country.
And now it appears, I have to add The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store. Set in Pottstown, PA (just a few miles from our store and our homes) in 1972, this story is one of murder, mystery, racism, classism, antisemitism and love. He really packs it in!
Here is a quick summary from Bookshop.org (where you can purchase the book rather than purchasing from Amazon because Bookshop.org supports indie bookstores like us).
[Workers] were digging the foundations for a new development, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows. Chicken Hill was where Moshe and Chona Ludlow lived when Moshe integrated his theater and where Chona ran the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. When the state came looking for a deaf boy to institutionalize him, it was Chona and Nate Timblin, the Black janitor at Moshe's theater and the unofficial leader of the Black community on Chicken Hill, who worked together to keep the boy safe.
NPR called this book “an all-American mix of prejudice and hope.” I am excited to read this book, a historical novel (Chicken Hill is real!), mixed with a murder mystery and lit fic at its best. What more could you ask for?
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December 04, 2023