Join Valerie Stocking, author of the historical coming of age novel, The Promised Land (SJT Press), as she virtually tours the blogosphere March 5 – April 20 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!
About the The Promised Land
It’s 1966, just two years after President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, and twelve-year-old Joy Bradford’s life is changing dramatically. Born and raised in the white suburbs of Connecticut, Joy is moving to Willets Point, Florida, to live with her mother Jessica because her parents are divorcing. Hoping it really is the Promised Land that her mother describes, she joins in Jessica’s enthusiasm only to find out how horribly wrong that vision is.
Unfortunately for Joy, the move does nothing to change her mother’s emotional and mental instability, resulting in a continuation of the physical and verbal abuse she is all too used to receiving. Her new school is years behind her old one, the kids dress and act differently, and on just the second day, Joy has a run-in with her geography teacher. Things are going from bad to worse until Clay Dooley, a mixed-race boy from that same geography class, offers his friendship. The two become close, sending shockwaves that dovetail with a growing sense of tension and unease in the community as a whole. Clay’s father Clytus, a well-educated black man, attempts to open his own clothing store in the white section of downtown Willets Point. This causes Jessica’s new lawyer cum boyfriend and leader of the local Klan chapter, Bill McKendrick, to join with other white citizens in using great force to block Clytus’ dreams. Tempers flare and emotions run high when Clytus refuses the Klan’s subsequent demand that he and his family move out of the white neighborhood they live in, setting off an explosive confrontation that will change them all forever.
An absorbing and suspenseful coming of age story set against the tumultuous backdrop of racial tensions in mid-1960’s America, Stocking’s blend of historical fact and fiction is as relevant today as it was during the explosive Civil Rights era. Probing the human psyche for the deep-seated fears that fuel the fires of racism and bigotry, she expertly builds characters who feel their very lives are at stake by the changing times. Full of insight and intensity, The Promised Land is a spellbinding journey you won’t want to miss.
About Valerie Stocking:
Valerie Stocking was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and wrote her first short story when she was five. When she was eight, she won a short story contest in Jack and Jill Magazine. She wrote her first play at the age of ten. In 1966, when she was twelve, she and her mother moved to a small town in Florida where they lived for a year. During this time, Valerie experienced difficulties with the public school system, tried a Seventh Day Adventist school briefly, and then dropped out altogether. It was her experiences during this year that inspired The Promised Land. Later, she would finish high school, graduate from college and earn a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from NYU.
For nearly 30 years, she wrote and edited in various capacities, including copywriting, newspaper articles, and short stories. She wrote nearly 20 full-length and one act plays over a ten year period, which have been performed throughout the U.S. and Canada. She edited books for audio, abridging over 100 novels in a 6-year period. In 2010, she published her first novel, A Touch of Murder, which is the first of what will become the Samantha Kern mystery series. It was nominated for a Global eBook Award in 2011 for Best Mystery.
Valerie lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her dog and cat, and is working on her next novel.
You can visit her website at www.valeriestocking.com.
The Promised Land is about a 12 year old girl who is not attractive, is not popular in school and has no friends to speak of. She is a very smart girl who is stymied in the school she is in because of her intelligence. Joy's parents are in the process of a divorce and her mother Jessica moves them from Connecticut to Florida where life there in the 60's is totally different than what she is accustomed to.
Clytus Dooley is a black man who wants to open up a clothing store in the 'white' section of town and of course with the climate of the times he is faced with numerous obstacles, first one is having a brick thrown with a threat attached to it, through the window of the store and once that is fixed ,which takes weeks, a fire destroys the store and all its contents. The local sheriff does not intend to do much in the way of investigating because he is also a racist and he knows that the Klan is involved so he looks the other way. Clytus realizes that his dream will not come true so he applies and is accepted to teach at a local college of which there is only two Negro teachers. Clytus is married to a white woman and they have one son Clay. Clay is in the same classes as Joy and they become friends. Joy has been invited a few times to the Dooley household for dinner and Clay and Joy meet at the library unbeknownst to Joy's mother.
The racial tensions of the era invade Joy and Clay's lives but even so they continue their friendship as Clay is the only one she can share her troubles at home with. Her mother is drinking way too much and it is affecting her relationship with her daughter to the point of Jessica being verbally and physically abusive to Joy. Joy desperately wants to keep in touch and eventually live with her father and Jessica is constantly berating her soon to be ex in front of Joy hoping to turn Joy against him.
So not only does Joy have to deal with issues that she is way to young to have to handle, she finds that she has to make a decision that will change her life. In a time where it was perfectly acceptable for the Klu Klux Klan to do their despicable murdering, maiming and burning down of Negroes homes, The Promised Land is a very intense story of a young girl and the difficulties she faces in a years time.
This is a very readable tense novel is definitely worth a read.
I received a print copy of this book for Review and was not monetarily compensated for my review.