54 Miles

Agate. Jul. 2024. 344p. ISBN 9781572843370. pap. $19.95. F
This emotionally charged novel from Pitts (The Last Thing You Surrender) centers around a turning point of the civil rights movement—the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, AL—but its unflinching exploration of a traumatic family history rooted in racism makes the book too immediate and compelling to be called historical fiction. When college senior Adam takes a semester off to travel from New York to Alabama, where his Black mother’s marriage to his white father is considered illegal, he believes that his mother’s fear for his safety in her hated home state is unfounded, and he’s even a little pleased at this sign of worry from his emotionally distant mother. Adam soon confronts not only the frightening and violent attacks on the protest march led by Martin Luther King Jr. but also the racism dividing his own extended family.
VERDICT A well-researched, powerfully written novel that takes readers into the heart of the civil rights movement in the South, leaving out none of the anguish, uncertainty, and despair felt by so many involved, but also remembering the courage and hope demonstrated by the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marchers.
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