Freedom’s Just Another Word
Canadian writer Caroline Stellings has captured the spirit of the 1960s by infusing her novel with rock stars like Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead, the chants of the Hare Krishnas, and the blues singers from the Jim Crow South—Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith. She even throws in references to The Andy Griffith Show and Gilligan’s Island. Set in Saskatoon, Canada, the story involves Louisiana “Easy” Merritt, a biracial young woman who loves to sing and has the gift for it. Easy also loves Janis Joplin.
Easy is a delightful character: she helps her auto mechanic father in his shop and knows a great deal about cars; she lives with the prejudices of the time and place, which are mild in Canada in comparison with parts of the USA; she is not poor but lives in a good house with lots of delicious food. She goes against the stereotypes some see when they look at a young woman of color.
No one is more surprised than Easy herself to find two local nuns, Sister Beatrice and Marsha, a postulant, in need of Easy’s skills. After Easy helps them choose a car, the three mismatched females join forces to travel all the way to Austin, Texas, to make Easy’s appointment with destiny—and the one, the only Janis Joplin.
Crossing the country with a couple of nuns proves to be an education for all concerned. What I love most about this book (besides all the nostalgia) is the delightful mix of characters—a sassy singer, a benevolent nun and a postulant who has a great deal to learn about God’s love. This is a charming novel.