THREE ROADS OUT
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The roots of this story run wide and deep - culturally and geographically. Written over a thirty month period during the first outbreak of Covid, no pandemic is mentioned - yet there are signs of impending danger. The story begins in the Shenandoah Valley about six months after the epilogue to Along the Red Dirt Road concludes. Elements of the Civil War, Great Depression, the Holocaust, WW2, the Vietnam era, and current times are all crucial to this story. Twists, turns, fear, hate, friendship, and revelation take center stage as Dr. KT Winslow, Larry Finler, the Wesslers, Stub O'Conner, and others are barraged by unanticipated revelations and excruciating choices.
The main protagonist is Annie's unmarried granddaughter, Dr. KT Winslow. It's been over eighty years since KT's enigmatic grandmother left town. Did Hillview ever forgive what she had done? What followed that autumn afternoon by the old stone wall? Annie is gone and now it's all on KT. Can she turn the page on Hillview and chart a new course as Annie had so long ago? The saga ends just before the Covid pandemic strikes Hillview - or does it? So much has happened. How much has really changed?
As with Along the Red Dirt Road (the prequel), expect an uplifting story packed with suspense, surprises, fascinating characters, a wide range of emotion - plus an abundance of hints and sub-plots for readers with hungry imaginations.
BLACK, WHITE, AND CURRENT TIMES.
The Hill family story (African American) is, in part, their patient, deliberate pursuit of the American dream - from Civil War days, through the Great Depression, WW2, and on to current times. The Wessler story (Jewish) is a long and winding one that begins in Europe and comes to rest in small town U.S.A. So, how did the 'old guard respond? How long will it take? Is Hilllview different, or are there places just like this one tucked away in other parts of the country? Ultimately, the Hills, the Wessler's, and those touched by Annie showed, in greatest clarity, the power that comes with precious friendship and human decency.
Three Roads Out is generally classified as Historical Fiction and Modern Fiction, but contains key elements Women's Fiction, Southern History, Appalachian History, Black History, Jewish Historical Fiction, Family Saga, Classic Literary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Mystery Fiction, and Mainstream Fiction. This is not a romance novel.
Three Roads Out speaks directly to readers, book clubs, and library groups of many interests and circumstances – with special relevance to baby boomers, young adults, the historical/language arts/social science communities, and socially conscious women and men of all ages. This book contains mildly colorful language and non-gratuitous violence, but no vulgarity, graphic violence, or sexual content.
THEMES & TOPICS.
Alalia syllabaris (stammering), Anti-Semitism. Authenticity. Bullying. Bluegrass Music. Civil War. Confederacy. Community. Corruption. Courage. D-Day. Decency. Diversity. Dust Bowl. Dutch Resistance. Elitism. Ethnicity. Fear. Feeblemindedness. Fraud. Friendship. Generosity. Genocide. Great Depression. Historical Preservation. Holocaust. Home Guard. Homicide. Honesty. Hope. Immunization. Inheritance. Interracial Friendship. Interracial Love Story. Jewish Immigration. Jim Crow. Joy. Justice. Isolation. Lost Cause. Materialism. Mortality. Mystery. Nazis. New South. Old Guard. Old South. Pearl Harbor. Peer Pressure. Perseverance. Personal Empowerment (especially women, teens, minorities). Political Corruption. POWs. Pregnancy. Public Health. Quakers. Race and Gender Equality. Rule of Law. Rural Medicine. Scandal. Secrecy. Segregation. Single Mothers. Slavery. Starvation. Social Empowerment. Sundown Town. Tragedy. Truth. Underground Railroad. Union Army. Upward Mobility. VE Day. Wellness. WW2.
I never intended to write this sequel, yet upon release of Along the Red Dirt Road, my readers and book club audiences began pummeling me with questions. What happened after Annie left town so long ago? Did Hillview ever forgive what she had done? What followed that autumn afternoon by the old stone wall? What about Noah, Blink, Miss Mittie, KT, and the rest? Oh, my! Some answers were in my head, but another book was not my plan.
Once underway, I set out to craft a story with serious societal value - authentic and uplifting, but genuinely entertaining. In the process, I developed a strong personal attachment to my characters - the old, the new, the vile, and the inspiring. While that bond slowed writing substantially, I think (hope) my obsessive attention to these characters serves to enrich the story.
Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical Institute for Negroes (Huntsville). Georgia Chickamauga, Spelman College. Hawaii Pearl Harbor. Kansas Medical Facility. Maine Medical School. Maryland Antietam, Point Lookout Prison, Potomac River. North Carolina Asheville, Camp Lejeune, Chapel Hill (UNC), Raleigh (Briggs Hardware Company, Raleigh Times, The Sentinel), Rockingham County, Wilmington (Forest Hills, North Carolina Shipbuilding Company). Oklahoma Dust Bowl, Young family homeplace (fictional). Pennsylvania Gettysburg, Philadelphia. Shenandoah Valley (some overlap with VA, WV): Apples & orchards, Blue Ridge Mountains, Cedar Creek (Belle Grove), Fisher's Ridge, Hillview (fictional town), historical society, New Market, Potomac River, public library, Robert E. Lee, Rockfish Gap, Schoolhouse Ridge, Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, textile mills, Tom's Brook. Tennessee Chickamauga, Shiloh. Virginia Apples & orchards, Blue Ridge Mountains, Cedar Creek (Belle Grove), Fisher's Ridge, Hillview (fictional town), historical society, New Market, public library, Richmond, Robert E. Lee, Rockfish Gap, Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, textile mills, Tom's Brook, Virginia Beach. Washington, DC Central Intelligence Agency, FBI. West Virginia Allegheny Mountains, apples & orchards, Blue Ridge Mountains, Hillview (fictional town), historical society, Potomac River, public library, Shenandoah Valley, Schoolhouse Ridge, textile mills. Asia Japan (Okinawa), Vietnam. Europe France, Germany (Adolph Hitler, Buchenwald, Gestapo), Netherlands (Amersfoort Concentration Camp, Amsterdam).
Selected cultural, historical, geographic references: African Violets, Automobiles (Honda Civic, Jeep Wrangler, Mercedes S-500 Sedan), Baptist Church, Bataan Death March, Boot Camp, Boston, California, Canadian liberation, Civil Defense, Colored People, County Courthouse, Dutch Famine, East Village (NYC), England, FDR, Florida, Gentlemen's Club, German Blockade, Illinois, Invalid Corps, Ivy League, Kansas, Maine, Methodist Church, Mississippi, National Historical Register, Pro Basketball, Real Estate, Russia, Scrap Metal Drive, Texas, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, War Widows, Whites Only, Wisconsin.
PREQUEL & SEQUEL.
It is recommended that you read Along the Red Dirt Road (prequel) before reading Three Roads Out (sequel). Both are closely tied to each other, yet time frames and circumstances are much different. Along the Red Dirt Road (with its Civil War roots) unfolds primarily in 1933 and 1934. Three Roads Out begins about six months after the epilogue to Along the Red Dirt Road concludes, and ends just before Covid strikes Hillview.
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Nearly ninety years after Annie's arrival in the Shenandoah Valley, I think of all she left behind. I also think of us as we share space, time, and general circumstances. I worry about truth, about fairness, about divisiveness by accident and by design - and about the acceptance of human disunity. Are we living in a world of silos? Could there be alien forces at work? If so, who are the aliens and what do they want?
With all their successes, failings, bonds, and differences, those who were touched by Annie's life managed to flourish from the seeds of understanding she left behind. Was it a clearer self-image, or a more balanced way of seeing others, or perhaps a more informed way of viewing the world? Would they dare to believe we "more alike, my friends, than we are unalike”? For Annie, KT, the Hills, the Wesslers, Larry, Emmaline, and numerous others in this tale, the resounding answer is 'yes'. With certainty, I can say that acting on this truth made all the difference.
Peace and love,
Quotation above from 'Human Family', a poem by Maya Angelou.