Novel by Charlotte author shows racial issues during desegregation
CHARLOTTE – A teacher who struggles with the loss of her husband and daughter faces a greater challenge as she goes “Through the Fire” (published by iUniverse) during Mississippi’s desegregation.
Author Jeri Johnson in her novel provides her readers with a moving drama centered on a grieving woman with racist tendencies who must learn to overcome her prejudices and accept her new African-American students.
Deep South Christian values are contrasted with ingrained cultural biases in this portrayal of bigotry, loss, mental breakdown and potential redemption.
The protagonist, Elizabeth Nolan, has never really recovered from the loss of her family in an automobile accident. She is also unwilling to teach her new pupils and her anguish is compounded when a black girl who resembles her own daughter enters her classroom.
When Nolan develops an emotional attachment to this girl, and comes to actually believe that the girl is her daughter, she must not only deal with her mental issues, but she must also deal with her feelings of racism in light of her Christian testimony.
“I wish readers to take away that race relations will not improve on their own.
Just like any relationship (marriage, siblings, co-workers, etc.), each member of the relationship must be willing to acknowledge any negative behavior that hinders the positive growth of the relationship,” says Johnson.
“That behavior must be dealt with and the individuals involved must be willing to change the behavior.”
“Through the Fire” is at once an insightful and emotional portrait of a woman’s inner struggles and a reflection of a society undergoing profound changes in regards to race relations, a transformation that is ongoing even to this day.
Jeri Johnson was born in Anson County, N.C. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is an Air Force veteran.
She retired from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. She has one son and two grandchildren.
“Through the Fire,” by Jeri Johnson, is available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.