Do you like to read? Do you like to read fictional literature? If you do, or even if you don’t, then John and Mary Margaret is definitely a “must read”. I can guarantee that you won’t put it down until you have read the entire book.
John and Mary Margaret by Susan Cushman
Growing up during the time frame in which Ms. Cushman has set her book, I was familiar with the current day events of the period like the civil rights movement; however, since I lived in the Midwest, I never personally experienced or participated in any activities like the various marches and such that took place during that era.
Thank you to Susan Cushman, published by Koehler Books, for providing me with a copy of John and Mary Margaret for the purpose of this review. All opinions contained are 100% my own.
About the Author: Susan Cushman
“Susan Cushman sets her second novel and seventh book in her home state of Mississippi and her current city of Memphis, where she has lived since 1988. She reads and writes in many genres, as is reflected in her published works: Friends of the Library (short stories, also from Koehler Books), Cherry Bomb (a novel), Tangles and Plaques: A Mother and Daughter Face Alzheimer’s (a memoir), ad three anthologies, A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We Are Meant to Be, Southern Writers on Writing, and The Pulpwood Queens Celebrate 20 years! A frequent director and speaker at numerous writing conferences, workshops, and literary festivals. Susan’s latest adventure involves leading a monthly creative writing group with twenty residents of a senior living facility.”
“We first meet Susan Cushman’s characters, John and Mary Margaret, in her short story collection, Friends of the Library. In her second novel and seventh book, Cushman fleshes out their stories, covering over fifty years of their lives in Mississippi and Memphis against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and continuing through current-day events.
John and Mary Margaret is an insider’s look into the White-privilege bubble of a young girl growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, and participating in sorority life on the Ole Miss campus in the late 1960s. But it’s also a candid portrayal of a young Black boy from Memphis who follows his dream to study law at the predominately White university. What happens when their shared love for literature blossoms into an ill-fated romance? Set squarely in the center of decades of historical events in Mississippi and Memphis, here their story brings those events to life. John and Mary Margaret’s story will challenge the status quo and give us another opportunity to examine our history and our hearts.”
The inspiration of this book as Ms. Cushman explains: “And now for a word about John Abbott and Mary Margaret Sutherland. They are totally fictional characters. Of course, Mary Margaret’s life mirrors my own childhood and coming of age in Jackson, and pledging Delta Delta Delta sorority at Ole Miss in the late 1960s. She and I share lives of White privilege and dreams of becoming writers. But that’s where the similarity ends. The inspiration for John Abbot does come from two historical figures – Don Cole and Kenneth Mayfield – two of the Ole Miss Eight who were arrested and expelled for protesting on campus in February of 1970.”
It is fitting that the story in this book begins with a visit to a book club meeting, as John and Mary Margaret makes it the perfect novel for any book club. The book discusses current racial climate nationally and, in the South, as well as characters that were loved in Ms. Cushman’s other book, “Friends of the Library”, which combines romance with serious cultural issues. John and Mary Margaret also includes discussion questions for book clubs and references for further reading.
I found this book very easy to read and quick. Through the author’s words, I felt as if we were having a conversation between two old friends. I loved the story line. It is a cross between what began as a love interest of two individuals of different races, each spending their lives with spouses within their own race. However, towards the end of the novel, the main characters, John and Mary Margaret, come together to get married. Discrimination is mentioned quite a bit in the book, as well as the suffering that people of color endured. Discrimination in today’s society is still common, and the public still has a long way to go to treat people of color as equals. However, the story of John and Mary Margaret communicates the power of love to overcome this historical racial injustice.
With a release date of June 8, 2021, you will want to preorder your copy of John and Mary Margaret today. You can easily obtain it on Amazon at your convenience.