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It's 1955 and Betty Jewel Hughes, an African American jazz singer in Memphis, is dying of cancer in Shakerag, Mississippi, with no one to take care of her 10-year-old girl after she's gone. Not Betty's mother, who is also sick, nor either of her friends, who have families of their own. And certainly not the man called Saint Hughes, the once-great trumpet player who ended up in prison. Betty's only option is to put an ad in the local paper seeking someone to love and care for her girl. When Cassie Malone, a privileged white reporter for the local paper, recent widow, and closeted rabble-rouser ends up on Betty's doorstep, a secret is revealed, which establishes a tentative, if prohibited, friendship. The ending is somewhat implausible the ease with which everyone accepts the final outcome is difficult to believe considering the time period and location. However, Hussey tells a beautiful story of redemption filled with strong female characters and rich in detail, showcasing Hussey's love of music and the South.--Kubisz, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist
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It's 1955 in the Mississippi town of Shakerag, and former jazz singer Betty Jewel is dying. A single mother, she must find someone to care for her ten-year-old daughter, Billie, and quietly places a local newspaper ad. When reporter Cassie Malone reads the ad, she leaves the safe, white side of town and tracks down Betty Jewel, hoping to write a story. Instead, Cassie, a childless widow, learns Betty Jewel's deepest secret and becomes inextricably linked with the cancer-ridden African American mother. Hussey, who pens romance novels under the pseudonym Peggy Web, here writes about women who transcend the racial discrimination of their time to do what is best for a young, soon-to-be orphaned child. Verdict This page-turning book will enchant fans of Kathryn Stockett's best-selling The Help. Hussey weaves events from recent American history into the plot, encouraging readers not to forget the cruelties of racial segregation while telling a story of love, hope, and friendship.-Shannon Marie Robinson, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.