Riding Through Shadows by Sharon Ewell Foster
Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (June 1, 2006)
From the back cover:
It’s the sixties, a time of turbulence and change, of worlds being turned upside down – even in small towns like East St. Louis, Illinois, and Tyler, Texas. And no one feels the times like eight-year-old Shirley Ferris, whose life is propelled by the rhythms of integration and televised war. Though her loving family cocoons her in the face of forces both natural and supernatural, Shirley’s life begins to unravel. All that holds her together is a bicycle, eccentric Mother Johnson, a sweet song. . . and the memories of a friend that she cannot seem to let go. Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, Riding Through Shadows is a story of triumph over tragedy.
I believe I purchased this book years ago from Crossings Book Club, probably before I even got married. Since I’m a confessed bookaholic, I have a BAD HABIT of buying too many books, books that I’ll probably never read. However, I’m glad I dug this one out of my shelf recently!
This book is incredible! Shirley is in a world of confusion. As she tries to make sense of all of the racism, war, and turbulence going on in the world, she makes a secret friend in her neighborhood: the little bad girl. Shirley doesn’t know the name of her new friend, but is glad to have this girl to talk to and to confide in. When her father is sent overseas, Shirley’s mother becomes an emotional wreck. Shirley’s twin uncles try to help with the family’s plight, but her mother irrationally pushes them away.
A traumatic event occurs, breaking Shirley’s world apart and after staying in a mental institution she’s taken in by a relative, Mother Johnson. As she recuperates from her ordeal, her new Mother Johnson takes her under her wing, teaching her about God’s grace and forgiveness.
This book grabbed me from the beginning, and I read it pretty quickly. The story jumps from Shirley’s life in the sixties to the eighties. I enjoyed the way the past and present were woven together.