I was a child living in New York during the cataclysmic years described in Five Smooth Stones, not too young to perceive the horrors happening down south as blacks (Negroes, then) fought the Jim Crow establishment in search of the most basic rights. I remember ugly pictures on the news – clubs, police dogs, fire hoses. I understood that very bad things were happening because of prejudice. Today I live in South Carolina, where the Confederate flag was just taken down from the state capitol after the slaughter of black worshippers in a Charleston church by a white man with a gun and a mind filled with hate. Right time, right place to read this book.
Ann Fairbairn brought me into David Champlin’s world, into his shoes, his skin. She takes her time to let David’s story unfold, to allow the reader to learn through his eyes, ears and heart. All of the characters are fully drawn and compelling, the settings vividly described. The title of the book refers to the “five smooth stones” that the Biblical David carried against Goliath. The novel is a modern retelling of the story, beautifully realized. I would also call it a Christ parable.
We know what will happen, but we cannot look away. This is a summer when many of you will no doubt be reading Go Set a Watchman. If you haven’t already, please read this one, too.