Luke May teaches local history--his lifelong obsession--at his old high school in Loring, Mississippi. Having been mentored by his hometown newspaper's publisher, a survivor of the civil rights turmoil, he now passes these stories along to students far too young to have experienced them.
But when a long-lost friend suddenly returns to Loring, where years ago her family had been consumed by an act of spectacular violence, Luke begins to realize that his connection with her runs deeper, both personally and politically, than he ever imagined. Just children in 1962, they had no sense of what was happening when James Meredith's enrollment at Ole Miss provoked a bloody new battle in the old civil war, much less its impact on their fathers' ambiguous friendship.
Once his daughters leave for Ole Miss, Luke's investigation of this decades-old trauma spills over into his own life. With his parents unwilling, or unable, to help him unlock secrets whose existence he had never suspected, this amateur historian is soon entirely consumed by an obscure past he can neither explain nor control--a gripping reminder that the past isn't dead, or even past.
Once again Steve Yarbrough powerfully evokes--as David Guterson put it--"not only historical grief but the grief of our own time."
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