Raney tackles a serious subject in this, the fifth and final of the Chicory Inn novels. Link is the last of the Whitman clan not married. When he starts getting to know Shayla, a young woman with an African American father, we get into the issue of inter-racial dating and marriage.
This novel explores racial prejudice, one of the many issues African Americans have to think about that never cross the minds of people like me. They certainly have challenges I have never had to think about.
Raney covers other relational topics in this novel too, such as family dynamics. The Whitman family has one set of dynamics while Shayla, her father, niece and imprisoned brother have an entirely different set.
It seems to me that Raney has done a good job exploring inter-racial issues in this novel. But I am not one to judge, being of northern European descent. I have no idea if how Raney portrays Shayla and her father is an accurate reflection of such a family. I do know that I was disappointed at the end of the novel that so many of the struggles and barriers in the relationship of Link and Shayla were left unresolved. I would like to think that Link and Shayla could ride happily off into the sunset but realistically, I don't think that would be their future. The discussion guide included helps readers contemplate all the complicated issues that might arise from inter-racial romance.
I recommend this novel to reading groups and others who would like to explore and discuss inter-racial romance.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Deborah Raney is an award-winning author, conference speaker and teacher. She and her husband live in their native Kansas. They enjoy visiting their four grown children and growing number of grandchildren. You can find out more at www.deborahraney.com.
Abingdon Press, 352 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this novel from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.