Pain, poverty and violence bring together two families separated by nearly everything else in this portrait of racial and political upheaveal during the Civil Rights movement in the American South.
A fictional story based loosely on the events surrounding the murder of Emmit Till, Beebe Moore Campbell's "Your Blues Ain't Like Mine" is a masterpiece that offers a refreshing look at subject matter that is too often written judgementally around characters that are little more than stereotypes with names.
The unique approach Moore takes on this difficult topic is distinctive for two reasons.
First, the length of time she covers.
Many works on this subject delve into the early struggles of the era but end with or around the Civil Rights Act of 1964, leaving the reader with the false impression that the movement ended there.
"You're Blues Ain't Like Mine" follows two families (one black, one white, both poor) out of the ashes of Mississippi's racist past up through the 1980s and into the 90s, closely and realistically examining segregation's longterm legacy for both races.
The second reason the work stands out is that it avoids common cliches and stereotypes that paint characters as purely evil or purely innocent.
Moore depicts a time and a people that were much more complicated by painting a portrait and letting the blame place itself.
The characters are not representations of the acts they commit, but living, breathing people who are both victims and purpotrators of the situation and circumstances in which they live.
It is this strategy that allows Moore to tell a story almost too big for any book.
Conjuring up stark images of cruel violence, pathetic poverty and a political system that needed both to survive, Moore forces the reader to confront a history of indignity and opression, the dust of which still hasn't settled.