by Gary Penley (Pelican) “Dummy” is big. He is black. He
doesn’t speak. To everybody in
Crossing racial lines and against codes of propriety for
the well-respected Dunaway family, the children, Sarah and Lucas Dunaway,
befriend Jubal Jefferson. When a fire breaks out in their home, Jubal “Dummy”
Jefferson saves his friends’ lives but is accused of murder, forcing him to face
his greatest fear and forcing a town to decide whether justice is blind and
whether Jubal is really who they think he is.
Part elegy to small-town childhood, full of suspense, and written with a sensitivity and attention to detail that reveals the complexity of how we see and treat those who are different, Jubal is a gripping novel which holds echoes of classic works of Southern fiction, such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
In Jubal, Gary Penley, retired geologist, integrates his disciplined writing style and his extensive travels in the South; the result is a concise yet poignant portrait of one man’s struggle within his community and against his greatest fear. Thus, Penley’s narrative bent captures his impression of the South as at once “beautiful, serene, violent, [and] unfathomable”.
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