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The Marsh Bird    by Anne Brooker James order for
Marsh Bird
by Anne Brooker James
Order:  USA  Can
Koehler Books, 2021 (2021)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

A truly magical story, The Marsh Bird takes us to the coastal low country in South Carolina and the Gullah people who live there. It is a many-sided tale of love, starting with the land itself, whose sea islands, marshes and tide movements provide an enchanting background.

Former slaves whose plantation owners fled at the end of the Civil War found sanctuary and livelihoods in this area. Though free, they keep themselves as closed in as they can since trouble is never far away. Surrounded by whites who both protect and threaten them, the Gullahs always have to reckon with the unexpected, and the unexpected is usually something they will not like.

Two orphaned children, one white and one multiracial, turn up, and we are privileged to follow their growth as the community watches over them. Their origins are a puzzle to all, and as they reach adulthood become the key to their future, both separately and together, and to the fate of the community.

Anne Brooker James' writing surely expresses her belief: 'that we're all just one people, that there doesn't have to be this divide among us.' Her love of nature, beauty, and beautiful old and young people are also luminously portrayed. This is a book to savor.

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