Living in the Middle is the story of James (Jimmy) Montgomery III, son of the New York City Montgomerys. Never close to his high society mother, Jimmy hardly misses her when she doesn’t attend his high school graduation. But when he returns home, he soon learns that he is unwelcome in the house where he grew up. Suitcase still in hand, he follows Benjamin, a trusted employee of the Montgomery family, back to the servant’s house. It is a far cry from the way of life he was accustomed to. Benjamin hands Jimmy a letter from his deceased father who informs the lad of his true parentage. Jimmy is indeed the son of the white Mr. Montgomery but his mother is a black woman from Tulsa, Oklahoma. When his stepmother makes him a deal – she’ll fund his college tuition but only if he does not reflect badly on the family name. Upon his graduation she’ll give him a cash settlement; in return he is to never ask for anything more.
Four years later, with his diploma from Columbia in hand, Jimmy sets off for Tulsa to find his true mother. For over twenty years he has passed as a white man and enjoyed all the privileges associated with the race at that time. He travels south and west, Jimmy soon learns that he has been living in a cocoon and knows almost nothing about how the Black Community lives. As Jimmy’s journey unfolds, he begins to associate himself with the community of Greenwood, Oklahoma – considered to be the other side of the tracks in Tulsa. A self-sufficient community of black who work hard and have found some success in the fifty or so years after the Civil War. But the blacks there are wary of Jimmy and don’t accept him into their midst, seeing him as a trouble-maker from New York. And the White Community, at the urging of those KKK leaders in charge of government, see Jimmy as an uppity Darkey who needs to be taught a lesson.
Torn between two worlds and belonging to neither, Jimmy must make a choice.
Living in the Middle is the raw, earthy depiction of living in the early 20th century as a Black Person. It is also the depiction of life in the era of the White Community. One is full of privilege while the other is struggling to prove their equality. Living as both may have its benefits but the reader soon learns that a hard choice must be made. Author A. Robert Allen has once again successfully given us an historical story based on facts. He has given us the characters of Jimmy Montgomery – the conflicted youth who is living in the middle, Glory Turner – his black mother who welcomes him into her world, Mercy Brown – the woman who ultimately fulfills his world, and Milton – his schoolmate and his business partner.
This is the story of the prosperous black community of Greenwood that was destroyed by a group of people who feared something they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, understand. Stir up the tension with a strong dose of the KKK and watch the pot simmer then explode!
Living in the Middle is the fourth book in the Slavery and Beyond series by this author. Each book is a stand-alone story although this one has a Prequel – Ticket to Tulsa – that sets the story up.
Living in the Middle is a thriller, a romance, a family saga, and an historical fiction story all wrapped into one. The story flows smoothly and the characters jump off the pages and immerse you in their story. Looking forward to the next book in this series.
Rating: 5 stars
Keywords: #NewYork, #Tulsa, #GreenwoodRiots, #BlackWallStreet, #JimmyMontgomery, #SlaveryandBeyond, #KKK, #prejudice, #ARobertAllen #Series #HistoricalFiction
Note: I was provided with a copy of this book by the author. This is no way affected my review.