The Year of Jubilee

Written by Cindy Morgan
Review by Elizabeth K. Corbett

Grace Mockingbird is a teenager living in Jubilee, Kentucky, a coal mining town, with her parents and two siblings: Sissy and Isaac. The middle child in the family, she is often at odds with her prim and proper mother, whom she refers to as Virginia. Virginia’s great ambition is to ingratiate herself with the well-to-do ladies in town. Growing up during the conflict-filled years of the 1960s, Grace sees the Civil Rights Movement take shape. When Isaac becomes sick, the Mockingbird family’s world is turned upside down. Grace tries to make sense of everything that is occurring in her world, hoping that her brother’s condition will improve.

This coming-of-age story is written in first person from Grace’s point-of-view. This thoroughly atmospheric novel brings to life the goings-on of a 1960s Southern town. There is a beautiful sense of vulnerability in the characters that makes them feel realistic and relatable. The Mockingbird family, Miss Adams, and the other inhabitants of Jubilee are equally mesmerizing. When I started reading, I was immediately drawn into Grace’s world. There is so much richness and depth explored within the pages. The setting is perhaps my favorite part because of the local color, the Southern culture, and the descriptions of the Civil Rights Movement.

I could not stop reading this beautifully written novel. The author’s note was a wonderful addition to the story and added so much depth.