Happy Friday! Today I’m reviewing a novella that we spotlighted here on Diversity Between the Pages in February – Dear One by Brandi Boddie
About the Book
Love in Steel Town America during the midst of WWII
Youngstown, Ohio 1944
Molly Clayton works as a ladies columnist for the Valley Bulletin, the town’s most prominent African American newspaper. Between writing, aiding the war effort, and helping her struggling parents pay the bills, she doesn’t have time for her favorite pastime of swing dancing.
When a friend gives her tickets to a Valentine’s Day dance for her birthday, Molly can’t wait to attend. She meets Stephen Keller, a handsome jazz magazine editor. She’s attracted to him, but a painful secret lurks beneath the surface of Stephen’s easy charm that makes him defensive to others and suspicious of her faith.
Things take a turn for the worse when a vicious rumor threatens to destroy both her career and her blossoming courtship. Will she gain the courage to confront the rumor and speak her heart to Stephen before it’s too late?
Dear One is a short novella, but it is rich in historical tidbits that will make you want to do your own research. The pace flows well (it doesn’t feel rushed at all) and the plot is vividly drawn. In cases of stories with this short of a page count, sometimes the end result is a narrative that barely scratches the surface of the emotions or history of the day. Other times, it has the opposite problem – everything but the kitchen sink is crammed into those few pages. With Dear One, Boddie achieves the right balance of story pace and character development, covering a lot of ground in the plot and tying things up nicely too. However, you wouldn’t hear me complaining at all if she ever rewrote this as a full-length novel – I enjoyed it that much to willingly invest more time in the plot and characters if given the opportunity.
I very much appreciated the history covered by Dear One; in our historical fiction, we – to our detriment – don’t often focus on the soldiers of color who fought during WW2 or on what wartime looked like for black Americans back at home. The fictional African-American newspaper in Youngstown is based on similar papers of the day, papers I never knew existed and which prompted me to do further study on my own on these and the Associated Negro Press. Boddie also explores prejudice from within the African-American community, as well as from without, and weaves a tender message of faith throughout the story too.
And yes! She does that all in less than 75 pages without feeling rushed or incomplete. I thoroughly enjoyed this novella and would recommend it for everyone, especially readers who believe that learning about the past can better help us understand the present and change the future.
I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this novella which I read for free with Kindle Unlimited.
About the Author
Brandi Boddie writes historical and contemporary romance. She holds a juris doctorate from Howard University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Youngstown State University. She lives in Texas with her husband and two rambunctious canines who aspire to be food critics. When she’s not writing or playing dress up in Victorian/steampunk/1940s garb, you can find her swing dancing or getting her daily fill of antioxidants through coffee and dark chocolate.
What about you? What most intrigues you about this novella?
Reviewed by Carrie