“Reconstructing Jackson” by Holly Bush was a great historical fiction novel. The story gave an excellent portrayal of life in post-Civil War Missouri. Reed Jackson is a lawyer who fought for the south in the war and subsequently was wheel-chair bound. He came west to Missouri to his cousin’s hotel at his mother’s insistence to start life anew. He understandably was bitter because of his injuries that made him feel less than a whole man, but those he met along the way showed him that in spite of his limitations, he was capable of living a wonderfully full life.
This time in history was very dangerous because even though the war was over, the sentiments of those on both sides of the issue ran very high. The fact that slaves had been set free by President Lincoln did not set well with some of the inhabitants of Fenton, Missouri. Belle Richards was a dirt poor farm girl who was abused by her father and brothers, but who had a dream for her future. Miss Beulah ran the Ames Hotel for Henry and Mary Ellen, Reed’s cousin and his wife. Beulah was an ex-slave who was secretly teaching other ex-slaves and Belle to read. When Belle’s father and brothers found out that she had learned to read and write, they beat her savagely. Belle came to Beulah for help to get away from her family. Reed married Belle to get her away from danger.
When it all came out about the reading and writing lessons, certain folks in Fenton decided to take it out on those freemen and their church members. During this time, Reed came to understand that his attitude about slavery and the south was not what he truly believed anymore. Belle helped him see what good he could accomplish and how he could overcome his injuries.
This is a really good book about how life’s experiences can overcome one’s attitude and outlook on life.
I received a free print copy of this book in return for my honest review.