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Safe from the Neighbors | [Steve Yarbrough]

Safe from the Neighbors

This tightly constructed tale by PEN/Faulkner finalist Steve Yarbrough tells the story of a Mississippi history teacher who’s determined to unravel the truth about one tragic day in 1962. Even as he pursues an affair with a long-lost friend, he wonders if she could hold the missing piece to this racially charged puzzle.
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Publisher's Summary

This tightly constructed tale by PEN/Faulkner finalist Steve Yarbrough tells the story of a Mississippi history teacher who’s determined to unravel the truth about one tragic day in 1962.

Luke May teaches local history—his lifelong obsession—at his old high school in Loring, Mississippi. Having been mentored by his hometown newspaper’s publisher, a survivor of the civil rights turmoil, he now passes these stories along to students far too young to have experienced or, in some cases, even heard about them.

But when a long-lost friend suddenly returns to Loring, where years ago her family had been shattered by an act of spectacular violence, Luke begins to realize that his connection with her runs deeper, both personally and politically, than he ever imagined. Just children in 1962, they had no sense of what was happening when James Meredith’s enrollment at Ole Miss provoked a bloody new battle in the old Civil War, much less its impact on their fathers’ ambiguous friendship.

Once his daughters leave for Ole Miss, and with his marriage at an impasse, Luke’s investigation of this decades-old trauma soon spills over into his own life. With his parents unwilling, or unable, to help him unlock secrets whose existence he’d never suspected, this amateur historian is soon entirely consumed by an obscure past he can neither explain nor control—a gripping reminder that the past isn’t dead, or even past.

©2010 Steve Yarbrough (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

“Very few writers understand the complex history and maddening social order of the Mississippi Delta. For Steve Yarbrough, though, it’s home turf. He is wickedly observant, funny, cynical, evocative, and he possesses a gift that cannot be taught: he can tell a story.” (John Grisham)

“Yarbrough, who has been likened to Faulkner for his attention to Mississippi (and whose novel Prisoners of War was a finalist for the 2005 PEN/Faulkner award) nimbly illustrates what the past can tell us about the present.” (The New York Times Book Review)

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