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Book Review: Unto Us Is Born by J. Benton White

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J. Benton White uses fiction as a platform to skillfully awaken an awareness of the power and influence of individuals to bring about change in a time of social, economic, and political unrest. Unto Us Is Born parallels the lives of three boys born in very different and unique circumstances to three women. Each of these women–Amanda, Mary, and Norma–has a series of dreams about their first-born sons and their destinies.

The novel is set in the South during the pre-Civil Rights era. Jesse, Joey, and Charles are all born on Christmas Day in 1931. The boys develop a friendship as they begin their junior high school years that evolve into a lifetime friendship.

All three young men are accepted by the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and are pledged to the same fraternity. The mounting racial and political conflict of the late ’40s and early ’50s become the focal point of the three as they become actively involved in the early stages of the growing Civil Rights movement in a racially charged atmosphere of hatred and conflict prevalent in Alabama.

The author develops the story of their relationship and the impact on their core values and the formation of their characters. As the fulfillment of their mothers’ dreams come to fruition the boys have a vital influence in bringing about change in the midst of chaos.

A bold attempt by members of the Alabamians for Equal Rights for Equal Right (AER) to make a statement at a National Championship football game between Alabama and Tennessee produces a racially charged after game melee and the murder of a young black man.

The unexpected reaction of the community draws national attention as the public demonstrates the reality of inequality in justice, and the complexity of racial bias, intolerance, and social disparity.

White carefully develops his plot and characters in a compelling drama of the reality of conflict with unexpected twists with an intensity and passion. White’s writing adeptly awakens in the reader a deep awareness and examination of personal attitudes and an awareness of the power of an individual to influence change in a world that faces new challenges of intolerance, acceptance, and interaction.

Profound and soul searching, Unto Us Is Born is timely and relevant, enlightening and entertaining. I personally became deeply involved and personally engaged in J. Benton’s White deeply moving novel.

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