If you’ve been tuned in to new historical fiction hitting the shelves, you may have seen hype surrounding the debut release of Own-Voices author Jamila Minnicks. In her new book Moonrise Over New Jessup, Minnicks offers a poignantly beautiful account of an all-Black community in Alabama during the Civil-rights movement. Using a unique lens, she explores an often untold side of history – highlighting matters of integration and segregation – while portraying a rich characterization of family, community, and love. It is a very intricate portrayal of life and a nod of respect and acknowledgment to incredible Black women.
In an email from the publisher, MOONRISE OVER NEW JESSUP is touted as a “tender and beautifully written debut that shines light on the untold stories of the women who supported the foot soldiers of the bourgeoning civil rights movement” (Heidi W. Durrow, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky). As Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (The Revisioners) said, “You will fall in love with New Jessup: the town and the book.”
As I started reading this debut novel, I was struck by the lyrical – almost poetic – opening line. Throughout the novel, Minnick has woven beautiful threads of wording into this historically and culturally relevant tapestry. While recognizing that this is not “my story” to critique, I can appreciate the storytelling and develop a deeper understanding of an overlooked/under-discussed element of Black history from a new face in the book-writing sphere. If you’ve read it for yourself or seen praise for the novel, I’d love to hear your impressions – leave me a comment below!