I have a soft spot for all things Chicago, and I enjoy period pieces and jazz, so I was very much looking forward to this book. And Morris has some writing flair. And she knows Chicago, and she has clearly done her research – about history, about jazz. And yet this does not add up to a very good book. It comes off as superficial – kind of cultural tourism. The characters end up being predictable types – the wise black man, the sexually precocious teenager, the gruff father who is truly misunderstood. I’m not sure why this book merited the Anisfield-Wolf book award. I don’t know how this book has challenged or opened minds about racism or cultural diversity. Perhaps I’ll figure it out on June 13th.

 

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