In this novel, Johnson gives us the story of two Black girls in the 1950’s who come from different circumstances facing the realities of growing up. Ruby is a high school girl in a scholarship program, looking to be an ophthalmologist, a huge feat considering her family background. When she meets and falls for a young Jewish boy she must choose whether he is worth losing everything for. Eleanor is a college girl who also came from a lower class background but made it to Howard and is pursuing an archivist’s career with the library. There she meets a boy above her station and she must face the realities of what keeping him might mean.
I really loved that these women were looking to get an education and also wanted to be able to be a woman who has love and a family. Too often women are depicted as one or the other, here we see the heartbreaking choices many women had to make. These women are ultimately dealing with the realities of racism and classism that was rife in the time period. I loved that Eleanor’s job gave us some snippets of powerful and successful Black women throughout history. I also loved Ruby’s choice of ophthalmology. I was so invested in their outcomes and felt such heartbreak for them over and over. The ending was so perfect.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the gifted copy. All opinions above are my own.
Do you prefer one timeline or multiple timelines in historical fiction?