Get Out (2017)

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Written and Directed by: Jordan Peele

I live about forty miles from Charlottesville, one of the most socially and politically liberal cities in Virginia. Last week, in the unfolding Theater of the Absurd that is the daily news, neo-Nazis were grabbing their five minutes of fame. Dressed in white and carrying torches — like a terrifying parody of themselves — they gathered at a public park, protesting the removal of a statue of  Virginia’s most beloved Confederate general, Robert E. Lee. Rumor has it they were joined by Richard Spencer, a vile lunatic whose blog has called for the genocide of Black people

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Moonlight (2016) (Mild Spoilers)

cyy-htkvqaadir8Written by: Barry Jenkins, based on “In Midnight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Directed by: Barry Jenkins

At around age nine, growing up in Miami in the 1980s, Chiron (pronounced Shy-rone, not like the mythological centaur) has already learned to take care of himself. His mother (Naomie Harris) is sinking into the quagmire of addiction, and he is relentlessly tormented by bullies, who have already labeled him a “faggot.” He’s too quiet, too sensitive, too gentle — and he’s on the fringes of exploring the fact that he’s gay. In his struggle for self-preservation, Chiron camouflages himself in silence.

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The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

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The Underground RailroadKindle Edition, 306 pages

Published: August 2, 2016 by Doubleday

Literary Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2017), National Book Award for Fiction (2016), The Rooster – The Morning News Tournament of Books (2017), Kirkus Prize Nominee for Fiction (2016), Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction (2016)

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Whitehead’s dark, brilliant novel takes us through the looking glass into an alternative version of the pre-Civil War South — a pastiche of our country’s brutal history of racism, before and after slavery. It is not for the faint of heart. I talked to several people on Facebook who suffered nightmares while reading it. This is, oddly enough, a fitting tribute to this book, which takes you to dark places while enticing you with the beauty of its language.
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Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

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MudboundHardcover, 328 pages

Published: Published March 4, 2008 by Algonquin Books (1st published January 1, 2008)

Setting: Mississippi, 1940s

Literary Awards:  ALA Alex Award (2009), NAIBA Book of the Year for Fiction (2008), PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for Fiction (2006)

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Henry and I dug the hole seven feet deep . Any shallower and the corpse was liable to come rising up during the next big flood: Howdy boys! Remember me?

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In the Electric Mist (2009)

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Written by: Jerzy Kromolowski & Mary Olson-Kromolowski, based on In the Electric Mist With the Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke

Directed by: Bertrand Tavernier

My mom was a fan of James Lee Burke’s murder mysteries — which are still on my shelves, unread, and I was intrigued by this adaptation of his novel In the Electric Mist With the Confederate Dead. Let’s face it: Tommy Lee Jones, Peter Sarsgaard, John Goodman, Kelly Macdonald, Mary Steenburgen — what a kick-ass cast! Sarsgaard alone is enough to sell me on just about any movie.

This beautifully shot, atmospheric thriller — rich in history and Southern culture — offers excellent acting and some suspenseful moments. It has some wonderful elements. An intriguing mystery and interesting characters.

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Minding Ben by Victoria Brown

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Hardcover, 352 pages

Published: April 12, 2011 by Hachette Books (1st Published April 1, 2001)

Setting: New York City

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Sixteen-year-old Grace leaves her native village in Trinidad to fulfill her dream of starting a new life in New York City. With a mixture of sadness and euphoria, she boards a plane, leaving her devoted mother, who relies on prayers, scriptures, and — if all else fails — a slight sense of martyrdom, her sick, disabled father, and her younger sister Helen.

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