Five Smooth Stones
The story takes place in New Orleans in 1933. Times are hard, money is scarce, and Jim Crow separates black from white with a tenuous acceptance. Li’l Joe Champlin and his wife, Geneva, have suffered hardship and have witnessed the plight of Negro men and women. The unwritten laws of white society instill a sense of inferiority on one side and the pure, supreme power of the white elite on the other. Li’l Joe and Geneva know that justice is taken care of without trial and with discrimination and hatred. They suffered unbearable grief and pain when their son David was murdered by a white mob. The pair decides to raise their grandson, another David, and vow to give him the best education possible. Li’l Joe is befriended by Bjarne Knudsen, who becomes David’s mentor and surrogate father through high school, Harvard Law and then Oxford. David, a brilliant scholar, falls in love with Sara, a petite white artist he calls “the smallest.” Although Sara sees love without a color barrier, David only sees the ugly future of racial hatred.
David is challenged again when he gives up a certain-to-be-golden career in international law to help lead his people fight for civil rights and change.
Despite the overwhelming length of this historical novel, you will be spellbound by every page. David and his friends are characters to remember and reflect on for years. You will recognize them as friends by the author’s detailed shaping of their personalities. The picture of the life lived by an interracial couple is honestly portrayed and still has value and truth today. Five Smooth Stones has proven to be timeless, and a tremendous testament to the civil rights struggle.