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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
416 pages
Jun 2009
David C. Cook

Crossing the Lines

by Richard Doster

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


Richard Dosterís new book Crossing the Lines explores the intricacies of racial tension, family love, and community bonds through one manís experiences during major events in the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950ís and Ď60s. Following Safe at Home, the first of the series, Dosterís new novel follows Jack Hall as his family moves to Atlanta after he gets a job at a large newspaper and begins covering news on the Civil Rights movement. Jack befriends Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, witnesses the Little Rock Nine incident, and sees his son participate in a violent ďsit-inĒ in Nashville, Tennessee. Through everything, each member of the family must make his or her own decision regarding race. Could this be enough to separate this seemingly tight-knit family?

Doster wondrously weaves fiction and history. While some characters are developed more fully than others, the interactions between them prove to be credible and emotionally moving. I was especially struck by the way Doster clearly provided insight into the mindset that we might immediately say is unethical, such as the people of the South who were completely against integration in any form.

Crossing the Lines cleverly introduces Jack, Rose, and Chris as they move past their own family crisis involving race (covered in the first book) and move to a new town, with the intention of starting afresh. As Jack, a newspaperman, starts his new job in the big city, the family begins to make connections in their community. As they avoid letting their new friends know their background involving the race issue, Jack seems to be unable to evade the issues themselves. Jack and his family must decide where they stand on this touchy subject and just how much their family must change in relation to the New South that is coming on the horizon, welcome or not.

Jack is a complex character while still being relatable as he interacts with the world through sports, literature, and social change. He cares for his family and loves his job, trying to keep a balance in the shifting culture of the United States in the late 1950ís. The healthy marriage displayed by Jack and Rose is put to the test when their son, Chris, begins to change from boy to man and make decisions for himself, decisions that strain the once-strong mother-son relationship. Doster explores the similarities and differences between the young pastor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the pastor at the Hall familyís new church. As a loving community reaches out to the Hall family, Jack makes connections that help him reach goals of which he could have never dreamt.

This book, though having a rather abrupt and slightly jolting ending, is generally well-crafted and explores some deep human emotion, especially involving family ties and race. Some cursing is used, although not excessively. While key Christian concepts such as salvation and forgiveness are not directly addressed, the major themes involve loving and accepting different cultures and working together to make the world a better place for the Lordís justice. I would recommend this book to those who are enjoy learning about the Civil Rights Movement and who might appreciate a different view of it. Ė Rachelle Bontreger,

Book Jacket:

Family man Jack Hall wants nothing more than to be a respectable newspaper reporter, see a good baseball game now and again, love his wife, and watch his son grow up in their middle-class, white community. Then he finds himself on the fault line where black meets white in the American South of the late 1950s.

Still reeling from an explosive confrontation that put his family in jeopardy (detailed in Richard Doster's first book, Safe at Home), Jack takes a job with the Atlanta Constitution and moves his wife and son south. He's thrilled when he's introduced to legendary editor Ralph McGill, an outspoken opponent of segregation who promptly sends Jack to Montgomery to investigate reports of a bus boycott.

There Jack meets another man on the fault line: Martin Luther King Jr. Profoundly moved by King's commitment to Christian philosophy, Jack's writing begins to reflect a need for racial equality and tolerance that isn't always well received-even by his own wife. As the years pass, Jack covers stories from Little Rock to Greensboro, about Southerners from Lester Maddox to Flannery O'Connor-always using his writing as a conscience for the South he loves so much.

But once again, historic events sweep Jack-and his idealistic son, Chris-into harm's way. Will this be the collision that destroys his family forever?