The Sweetest Hallelujah-Elaine Hussey

The Sweetest Hallelujah
Elaine Hussey
Mira, Jul 30 2013, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778315193

In 1945 Memphis, Betty Jewel Hughes ends her career as a jazz singer when she finds herself pregnant. Ten years later in Shakerag, Mississippi, single mom Betty Jewel learns she has cancer with little time left. Not concerned for herself, Betty Jewel worries what will come of her beloved Billie Jo once she is gone.

Desperate as she has no one to replace her, the dying black mom puts out an ad for someone to love and raise her ten year old daughter. Touched by Betty Jewel’s plea, white reporter Cassie Malone decides to do a story on the mother whose dying wish is for her child. A recent widow still grieving her loss, Cassie and Betty Jewel connect until they learn a secret that shocks the journalist’s soul while the tweener wants to meet her daddy. Not everyone is a saint when it comes to Billie’s care, but most are nurturing kind people.

This is an entertaining 1950s Deep South family drama that captures the stratospherically high racial tension that explodes just after the Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling. In that environs, black and white do not mix yet Betty Jewel and Cassie forge a friendship in spite of the secret as both want what is best for too precocious Billie.

Harriet Klausner

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