The Girl at the Back of the Bus by Suzette D. Harrison

Published February 8th 2021 by Bookouture

Book Description:I watched in awe as Miz Rosa stopped those men on the bus with her clear, calm “no” and I thought about that word. What if I said no? What if I refused to follow the path these White folks wanted for us? What if I kept this precious baby?

Montgomery, Alabama, 1955
On a cold December evening, Mattie Banks packs a suitcase and leaves her family home. Sixteen years old and pregnant, she has already made the mistake that will ruin her life and disgrace her widowed mother. Boarding the 2857 bus, she sits with her case on her lap, hoping that the driver will take her away from disaster. Instead, Mattie witnesses an act of bravery by a woman named Rosa Parks that changes everything. But as Mattie strives to turn her life around, the dangers that first led her to run are never far away. Forging a new life in a harsh world at constant risk of exposure, Mattie will need to fight to keep her baby safe.

Atlanta, Georgia, present day
Ashlee Turner is going home. Her relationship in ruins, her career held back by prejudice, she is returning to the family who have always been her rock. But Ashlee’s home is not the safe haven she remembers. Her beloved grandmother is dying and is determined to share her story before she leaves…

When Ashlee finds a stack of yellowing letters hidden in her nana’s closet, she can’t help the curiosity that compels her to read, and she uncovers an old secret that could wreak havoc on her already grieving family. As she tries to make sense of what she has learned, Ashlee faces a devastating choice: to protect her loved ones from the revelations, or honor her grandmother’s wishes and follow the path to the truth, no matter where it may lead.

For readers of The HelpOrphan Train and Before We Were Yours comes a beautiful and heartbreaking novel about redemption, family secrets and the spirit of survival found at the hardest time.

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Girl at the Back of the Bus by Suzette D. Harrison is an important, emotional story. With a dual timeline, we learn about the difficulties that African American women dealt with and still deal with all the time. The chapters switched seamlessly from 1955 to present day. Mattie’s story was hard to read. To learn about what it was like living in the Jim Crowe era and how she was treated just because of the colour of her skin. Struggling to get an education and raise a child as an unwed mother is hard for anyone, but for a black young girl, it was almost impossible. Thankfully she has some strong female role models to help her succeed. She was a strong woman with convictions and I was rooting for her all the way. Ashlee’s story was also eye opening. She faced different problems, but there were still obstacles in her way because of her skin colour.

This is a very timely story considering all the race issues there have been over the last year. This is a great book to educate and open eyes about what minorities deal with every day, in the past and the present. I loved how Rosa Park’s act of refusing to move on the bus sets the stage for these strong women to make changes and stand up for themselves as much as they could under the conditions they were living. A wonderfully written story that had me crying several times. If you enjoy historical fiction, dual timelines, well-developed strong characters and a well-written and plotted story, then this is for you. Thanks to Bookouture for gifting me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.

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About the Author: Suzette D. Harrison, a native Californian and the middle of three daughters, grew up in a home where reading was required, not requested. Her literary “career” began in junior high school with the publishing of her poetry. While Suzette pays homage to Alex Haley, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison as legends who inspired her creativity, it was Dr. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that unleashed her writing. The award-winning author of Taffy is a wife and mother of two teens, and she holds a culinary degree in pastry and baking. Mrs. Harrison is currently cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cupcakes. 
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