Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Discarded: Virgin Soul by Judy Juanita

Released: April 2013

Virgin Soul is the first novel by Judy Juanita - a celebrated playwright and poet from the California Bay Area.

Virgin Soul was provided to me by the publisher, Viking, after they had asked me to review this novel. I agreed to review Virgin Soul because its synopsis sounds exciting, rich, full, and controversial, especially for those interested in the civil rights movement period. The novel takes place throughout the 1960s.

Fresh out of high school in 1964 Oakland, African-American Geniece Hightower decides to rent a room at the local YMCA and attends Oakland City College. Geniece eventually becomes involved in the Black Panther Party - defined (according to Wikipedia) as a black revolutionary socialist organization - which had actually originated in Oakland during the same time period. The novel is meant to be a coming-of-age story about Geniece and her political and racial experiences during the 1960s.

After just a few chapters, I lost interest in Virgin Soul upon feeling that I was "being told and not shown" the story. Seasoned readers know how it goes - being told and not shown the story results in detachment from the narrator and main character, as well as a total lack of interest in the story. I just didn't care about Geniece's experiences and political adventures shortly after beginning the novel.

I absolutely LOVE reading about the 1960 civil rights movement period, but truly felt that Virgin Soul was intended for a very limited audience. Unfortunately, that intended audience did not include me.

Readers who do enjoy reading fiction about the civil rights movement should check out The Help by Kathryn Stockett, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, and Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas.

Click on any of the images below to review the books in more detail on

What are your favorite novels or books about the civil rights movement? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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