Friday, May 3, 2013

Virgin Soul by Judy Juanita

Eighteen year old Geniece didn't know what she wanted, except that she wanted out.  Out of Oakland, California, where she had known up with extended family when her parents weren't around.  Out of being ignorant and not having a future.  Out of being a virgin, and not being in the groove of the Sixties sexual revolution.

So, Geniece heads across the bridge to San Francisco where she starts pursuing her education.  She does two years at a community college, then transfers to a four year college, just in time to be in at the beginning of the Black Pride movement.  She makes friends with those in the movement, and the speeches she hears about black empowerment starts to radicalize her.  Her friends and she begin to live as the movement wanted, black friends, black lovers, black literature, helping other black families to make it through life.

Geniece and her friends end up joining the Black Panther Party.  They know the party leaders such as Bobby Seale, Stokely Carmichael, Huey P. Newton, and Bobby Ethridge.  Geniece becomes the editor of the BPP newspaper, while continuing her education.  She also becomes involved in tutoring and programs such as feeding breakfast to young children.  As the movement becomes more radical, she must decide if this is still the place for her to make her dreams come true.

Judy Juanita has written a stirring novel that transports the reader back to the Sixties.  San Francisco was the hub of much of the social turmoil that ended up changing the country; the Black Power movement, the hippie movement, and others.  She effectively outlines the impetus that drove young people to join the movements and how this decision affected their lives.  This book is recommended for readers who are interested in the time period or in black history.

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