About His Eye Is On The Sparrow
It’s 1962 in the Midwest. The civil rights movement has just begun. Ann, who is Jewish, and Ty, who is black, are college students in love, and excited to meet each other’s families. Along the way they encounter potentially violent, racially charged situations and deal with parental anxiety, or complacency with their childrens’ place in the forefront of changes yet to come. Ty and Ann learn about each other’s community and family as they struggle with the realities of interracial relationship. And we, the readers, have a window into exactly how far we’ve come in the last half century in America. Or have we?
His Eye Is on the Sparrow was honored to be part of the nine book launch of Shebooks, a new e-book publisher of great short stories by women, for women. They publish short memoirs, fiction, essays, and long-form journalism by some of the best writers in the United States and beyond, both well known and yet to be discovered. Each Shebook is between the length of a magazine article and a book—long enough to immerse yourself for a plane ride, or a good read before bed. At a length that respects their time. In a format that fits their busy lives. Short e-books for women… Shebooks.
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“…highly engrossing story… The characters are real and engaging; the story, fast-paced, educational, and exceedingly well written.” Linda B. Sherby
“I loved the intensity of this story, its feeling of palpable danger, and the way it asks big questions about intolerance, acceptance, love, and difference.” Rosenfeld
“Exquisitely written. This is gut retching. It’s filled with love and passion, caring and hatred…..Go pick up a copy…You’ll enjoy it. No, you’ll LOVE it!” Judith Peterson.
“The way she writes about emotions is incredibly vivid, from love to humiliation.” Liviania
“…sweeps you up into the world of its two young lovers, leaving you on the edge of your seat when the racially-charged situations they encounter pose the threat of real danger.” Reader
“This is gut retching. It’s filled with love and passion, caring and hatred.” Judy
“ I really enjoyed the prose and way it was written. It felt at times more like a long poem than an actual story, which is full of sentiment. There are two quotes I picked out to share with you because I found them noteworthy while reading.’A sick feeling twists my stomach accompanied by a new knowledge. Black people can easily become toys for white people. Black people can easily be used for diversion. At any moment. Out of the blue. Me, too.’ (and) ‘He tells me he is most free in my arms. I tell him I want to crawl inside him and hear music with his ears, see the blue of the sky with his eyes. Why does love want the impossible?’… the last quote makes my heart sing as I think it’s such a beautiful sentiment. Love does want the impossible and the words just capture the essence very well.”…Williesun
“…a beautiful story-essay for anyone who loves writing that’s gracefully crafted, engaging, and meaningful, about the world’s dangers and beauty, and a parent’s wish for her child to be both courageous and careful.”…
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On Good Friday, 1962, Ty and I travel from Iowa to Saginaw, Michigan, to visit his family. On the way, we hit a rib joint on 63rd and Cottage Grove, in Chicago. It’s seven o’clock at night, but up and down the street people bustle to buy groceries, clothes, toiletries. Women enter beauty parlors, men get their hair processed. “Is this safe? You and me in Chicago?” I ask because I’m white and he is black.
He laughs. “You kiddin? Chicago? Never. This is the only place where a woman tried to beat me up.” Ty is in his senior year, a tackle and co-captain of the University of Iowa’s football team, which is number one in the nation. Ty is six-foot-two and two hundred and seventy pounds of muscle and was recently named All-American.
“A huge, bald-headed woman asked me for money. When I wouldn’t give it to her, she chased me down the street threatening to beat me up.” He laughs again. “Can you imagine? Me running from a woman waving her purse and screaming for money?”
He looks for a parking space. “Hey, if she didn’t get me, no one can.” We park Ty’s car, a ’48 Ford he bought for fifty dollars, under the El.
“The ribs here are almost as good as Ma’s and the sauce is so hot it’ll clean your sinuses.” The rib joint is a smoldering grill with mustard-based sauces, a red vinyl bench for waiting customers, no tables. We get two rib sandwiches extra spicy—half slabs of ribs on bread and a side of slaw—and leave. We walk under the clashing, jangling El darkening the street back to our car and get in. The sandwiches, slaw, and Dr. Pepper are on our newspaper-covered laps. The deep ochre sauce covers my chin and fingers. The white fluffy bread—which I usually hate—is now flavored with ribs and sauce.
We drive through Gary, Indiana, then start the zigzag up the Michigan palm to reach Ty’s family. There’s no easy way to traverse Michigan. The roads run north-south or east-west and we need a diagonal heading from the south west part of the state to the northeast. That road doesn’t exist So we crisscross the distance on two-lane blacktops through empty towns that slow our progress.
There’s something comforting about moving in the night on a road with your lover while headlights form light streams to the horizon. There’s something comforting about the tree shadows with new leaves shushing in the breeze. Something comforting about being in the darkness talking as we still do, insatiable to know everything about one another, as though what we want is to crawl into each other’s lives and have each other from the beginning.
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