Contest judge: "a well-told story . . . great dialog"
(Soda Springs) is a well-told story revealing a different side of racial prejudice in the sixties and inviting questions of the present. Great dialog, powerfully evocative sexual tension, interesting characters and plot. -- Sheila Deeth, Global eBook Awards judge
In the sixties I was an English schoolgirl wondering why North America and South Africa seemed to think people's skin color made so much more difference than hair color.
Terry Marshall's Soda Springs brings that difference to life -- not just black and white skin in Birmingham Alabama, but brown and white in Soda Springs, Colorado. There are revolutions all round, and the sexual revolution too -- country girls not sure about losing their cherry, college boy like a boy-scout, always prepared, a host of old rules broken while the rules that keep people down are kept in place.
Rick, from Soda Springs, and Charlie, from Birmingham, are college room-mates at Cornell, visiting Charlie's family to write a report in their college newspaper. Charlie's Mom's not prejudiced -- she really trusts her black cleaner. Charlie's Dad's just overworked because outsiders keep stirring up trouble. And Rick -- he's just a not-quite innocent abroad, falling into politics and temptation with equal abandon, pathos and amusing mishaps.
Meanwhile, there's the prom? -- another thing I didn't understand about, growing up in England. And there's all those people (none black) back in Soda Springs who really aren't prejudiced either; they just don't trust "lettuce-pickers."
The voice is just right, the dialog as sure as one of those movies that first taught me about this foreign world, the teenaged sexual tension as powerful, sad and real as the racial tension it mirrors.
The ugliness of racism is balanced with hope and youth. The wide stage of history is balanced with family tragedy. And the struggle for freedom is balanced nicely with the struggle for a woman's love.
The well-nuanced voice of the writing is nicely illustrated with Chuck Asay's illustrations which, while initially seeming unlikely in a literary novel, soon become a valued part of the reading -- a place to stop and say "Yes, that is how it looks," or "I wonder," only later finding out.
For those who wonder how it was, those who wonder how much or how little things have changed, or those who simply want to read an enjoyable, literary, sensual and sensitive novel, Soda Springs is a highly recommended adult and young-adult novel. -- Sheila Deeth (published in www.gather.com)