Image via WikipediaJerusalem Spring
By Fares Aoun
I love when writers decide to use fiction to tell an opinion or express concern about some situation. Fares Aoun has created a powerful, brilliantly conceived method and story to do just that. I applaud this work and consider it a must-read, especially given I read the book from front to back in one sitting. The impact for me was dramatic; I hope the impact for some will be enlightening...
It is the 1960s and somewhere in the south, readers find themselves inside a segregated prison. A new group is coming in and we see how the all-white guards treat the new prisoners. There are two who are highlighted; one is very young and has been hurt somewhere and is in bad shape. Another who was on the bus is helping him. The identity of these individuals is "13," and "12," the latter.
Immediately trouble begins because 12 was trying to get somebody to help 13. There would be no doctor tonight, but the warden, at least, ordered that 13 be given food that night. He never received any from the guards. After the mandatory shower, etc., the guards literally pushed them forward into a room at which other prisoners stood at the bars and quickly closed the door. They were in a large, long hallway; the prison was extremely overcrowded and though the warden kept insisting that no further men be sent there, nothing changed.
Needing to know his present situation, 12 immediately started to look and walk around and when no food came, he tried to find somebody to help 13.
Finally, he came upon one man in a cell--all the doors were kept open so the crowded group could at least move around, but the toilets were broken and the smell horrendous.
Joe was alone in his cell with stacks and stacks of books. Everybody knew that he was this warden's inside man, but at least he got one slice of bread for 13.
The warden and his wife were both individuals who did not discriminate nor feel differently about those of other races. His wife wanted to leave the south and go somewhere else and start a family because of the tense racial situation. Unknown to his wife, the warden had already started the transfer process months ago; but he didn't want to raise her hopes. The warden was a good man most of the time; he hated what he sometimes had to become in order to do his job. But when a fire, and then a kitchen riot erupted, he became who he felt he had to be to do his job. And then hated his actions because they were similar to his father's...
Even Joe was surprised at how the warden was treating those who had been caught in the riot, even if they personally hadn't been the instigators. For Joe and the warden had become at least cordial and the warden got Joe his books and was even discussing his taking college courses...
Readers may stumble just as Part II begins in present time but will quickly continue on.
Because, actually, the same story continues! Yes, there are a few slight changes--Joe is now called Yusef. The prison becomes a "camp" of people. Scott is still waiting to transfer...
From the author (p. 223, Acknowledgments) "My mom raised us to treat others the way we would want to be treated. My Dad taught us to tell the truth and stand up for the weak." From the Dedication--...this book [is dedicated] to my children and to every child throughout the world with the hope that we adults will give them a better place to live.
I pray with that hope too... If you also have hope...read this book and share it. I'm also hoping the author's next book runs along similar lines! Can there ever be a happy ending? I have a feeling this author has much to say to the world...and I want to read it!
Book Received Via
G. A. Bixler