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The Gully Path

Daughters of Parrish Oaks Series, Book 1
Narrated by: Allie James
Series: Daughters of Parrish Oaks, Book 1
Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
Categories: Romance, Historical
5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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This Story Is Sweet

Publisher's Summary

Mississippi. The 1950s and ’60s. Two friends, one white and the other black. Sue Ann spends her pre-adolescent years protecting her best friend, Liz Bess, from prejudice and mistreatment, but she can’t protect her from the untimely death of her mother and their resulting separation as Liz Bess is sent north to school.

As a young adult, Sue Ann falls in love with Tate Douglas, a civil rights worker from the North, during the violent summer of 1964. Liz Bess, now Elizabeth, returns to Mississippi to become a freedom fighter for her people and comes face to face with racist violence and death. Through the turmoil, Sue Ann is reminded of the words of Elizabeth’s grandmother: “Love ain’t black, and love ain’t white; it jes’ is.”

©2014 Dr. Sue Clifton (P)2018 Dr. Sue Clifton

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Love in Turbulent Times

Wow.

I loved this book. I had already listened to books 3 and 4 in the Daughters of Parrish Oaks series and enjoyed them so I was pleased to be able to get this one. Dr. Sue Ann Parish plays a secondary role in the subsequent books but this book is her origin story. Where it all began, so to speak.

Sue Ann grew up in Mississippi during the 1950s and early 1960s – a turbulent time to say the least. I am familiar with American history, my interest being piqued after watching the miniseries The Blue and the Gray and North and South as a young adult. I was fascinated with the history of slavery because it was far removed from my own life. Only later did I learn about he Trail of Tears and the horrible treatment of my ancestors against the Aboriginal peoples of North America. Well, not my ancestors specifically but people of my race. I grew up believing all people were equal but have faced that was not always – nor is it even today – the case.

This story takes place during a time of deep racial divide when black folks in the south began to fight back against the oppression. Jim Crow was well and truly entrenched but times were changing. The freedom riders were coming down from the north, trying to empower the oppressed. The stories of Emmett Till and the three young men killed while trying to help blacks register to vote are woven into the fabric of this book. Sue Ann is growing up in the spectre of the Civil Rights movement all the while going about her business. She often stands up for blacks in her community, to her own peril. This book is very much about the larger world being played out in a small scale, in the guise of one young woman.

As a white daughter of the south, Sue Ann had a best friend Liz Bess. They were friends but had to keep that friendship a secret because one girl is black while the other is white. There was, of course, no mixing of the races. They forged the friendship around their secret hiding place on the gully path and spent a good part of their youth together. When she was twelve, Liz Bess sent to a boarding school up north, severing the bond. Later the women would be reunited, but the some of the closeness was gone.

There are a lot of little anecdotes as the story moves forward – seemingly random events that don’t mean anything until they are all woven together as the story moves forward. As revelations are made, things become clearer and you realize those weren’t just random happenings but that every incident was included for a reason. It’s the sign of a good writer who can keep you invested through the entire story yet also pull out a few surprises in the end.

This is also a love story. The love between Sue Ann and Liz Bess as well as the eventual love between Sue Ann and Tate. Talk about a turbulent time to have a relationship. Both Sue Ann and Tate are idealistic and realistic at the same time. I so badly wanted their relationship to survive. At the end of the book, Sue Ann says:

I am Sue Ann Taylor Parish. Daughter of the new Mississippi. Nothing can prevent me from being what I want to be. I will not tolerate the nation and will not stop until I’ve made a name for myself.

By the end of the book, she’s done just that. I enjoyed following on her journey and am so glad I picked up the book. I also feel its relevance and resonance continues on today. It was written before the latest iteration of hate (including Charlottesville), but the story is as relevant today as any being written. We need to know where we came from if we ever hope to change. Hate is strong, but so is hope. This book gave me hope.

Allie James is a new-to-me narrator and I was impressed. She gave me the southern drawl without it being too much. I was always able to understand her words. She also did a great job with the characters whose grammar wasn’t perfect. I’ll definitely look out for more books narrated by her. A great listen and I can’t wait to grab book 2.

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Love Wins Over Prejudice

There were many characters I presume fictitious which added-heartwarming friendship against warnings for safety by parental love and bigotry people. There was plenty of mystery, excitement, and non fiction about a time when Mississippi was struggling.
Good book Dr. Sue. I loved it.