My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
These sensitive and heartbreaking but inspirational tales of courage, love and resistance to the vicissitudes of the world is of a literary quality that makes them a pleasure to read, in spite of the unhappy circumstances the characters must face.
This collection of short works lands like Bruce Lee’s famous one-inch punch; it delivers tremendous impact with astonishing velocity and you never see it coming. And, after the series of jabs delivered in short story form comes a novella that breaks your heart. This is a book loaded with heart, and burdened with anguish, anger and indignation but also with hope and love. From sources of personal experience and contemporary happenings come accounts of inequity and a futile search for justice.
Employing the classic craft of extracting empathy from the reader and engaging sympathy for the characters, Johnson exemplifies literary quality. Although it is a much abused and overworked phrase, “I couldn’t put it down” can truly be applied to this work. Clearly an award-worthy author, she has won accolades for several of the short entries in the collection but the jewel is the novella “My Monticello” which is entrancing and compelling. I challenge the reader not to become part of this story and to feel the anxieties and aspirations of the players in this tragic tale.
One of the most appealing aspects of the narratives is the inborn dedication to helping one another that emerges in times of trouble. While not everyone feels it in like measure, it repeatedly motivates the actions of those whose hopes have been crushed but remain standing proud. Heroism can come in many forms, even to those of most humble status. In spite of self-doubt and trepidation regarding the outcome, a manning of the barricades is imperative to those who embrace the peril with courage.