100. Forty Acres- Dwayne Alexander Smith

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Title: Forty Acres

Author: Dwayne Alexander Smith

Rating:  ★★

On the Shelves: Fiction> Horror/Thriller

What if overcoming the legacy of American slavery meant bringing back that very institution? A young black attorney is thrown headlong into controversial issues of race and power in this page-turning and provocative new novel.

Martin Grey, a smart, talented black lawyer working out of a storefront in Queens, becomes friendly with a group of some of the most powerful, wealthy, and esteemed black men in America. He’s dazzled by what they’ve accomplished, and they seem to think he has the potential to be as successful as they are. They invite him for a weekend away from it all—no wives, no cell phones, no talk of business. But far from home and cut off from everyone he loves, he discovers a disturbing secret that challenges some of his deepest convictions…

Martin finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery—but this time around, the black men are called “Master.” Joining them seems to guarantee a future without limits; rebuking them almost certainly guarantees his death. Trapped inside a picture-perfect, make-believe world that is home to a frightening reality, Martin must find a way out that will allow him to stay alive without becoming the very thing he hates.

A novel of rage and compassion, good and evil, trust and betrayal, Forty Acres is the thought-provoking story of one man’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of a terrifying new moral order.

(Goodreads 2014)

It’s only fitting that my 100th review on this blog should be the first netgalley book I requested!!

Firstly, I need to thank the author, Dwayne Alexander Smith and the publishers at Atria Books for allowing me access to this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I will be as honest as I can be.

This book- is not one you can go into with a light heart. This book was the first book I ever requested on Netgalley, back when I joined in March, and it was published on 7th July 2014. But I just kept putting it off, and off…because I knew it would be uncomfortable. But I still wanted to read it, which is why I requested it. I’m the type of person who figures if a book like this makes you uncomfortable, it’s does it for a reason, and that reason makes it even more important to read or look upon what causes that discomfort. Because even sadly in today’s society, racism is still an ongoing issue- I mean just look at the most obvious current occurence in America with Ferguson. And just because something makes you uncomfortable in real life, doesn’t mean you can close your eyes and look away and pretend it isn’t actually happening to real people- just because you are lucky enough to not have it happen to you or your own family.

Disclaimer: I am White. I am a working class, white English girl. I know nothing of racism other than what I have perceived through other people. I do not pretend to understand how it works (or doesn’t work), and I have no pretence of knowing what those who suffer at the hands of racism go through on a daily basis. I can’t. It simply doesn’t happen to me. It may happen to plenty of other white girls (because racism is still racism, just because you are white doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen!), but I’m lucky that it doesn’t happen to me.

However, this does not mean I am one hundred percent ignorant or blind to it. I know it is still out there, and even worse, people are scared to talk about it or even acknowledge it, because in this day and age, we are meant to have (theoretically) moved past the idea that people are less than others because of their heritage or the colour of their skin. And in the UK, I have always felt that there is more of a Class system divide than a racial divide, if I’m honest. The amount of blatant racism which occurs in America, “land of the free”, scares the hell out of me. I mean, really.

This book made me uncomfortable but I honestly couldn’t pinpoint what exactly it was that was making me uncomfortable. I think it is the idea that there may be some people in the world who do actually think that this is what needs to be done to make the “whites” pay for what their ancestors did. Moreover, there is technically such a thing as “white slavery”, and even just taking the ethnicity element out of it, “modern day slavery”- so it isn’t actually that far off from being impossible.

Anyway, onto the book (finally. Sorry, I just have a lot of thoughts I need to get out of my head on this one). The book follows a successful lawyer named Martin Grey, and it opens with him representing a case of civil rights, of racial discrimination, and he is up against another successful lawyer, who is representing the white owners of the company who mistreated their employee… the shocker? The representing lawyer is black. So is Martin. After winning against this lawyer in court, he is basically “initiated” into the circle of wealthy, black men but it isn’t very long before it turns out that their “white water rafting” trips are something much more sinister. Throughout this book, Martin has to wrestle with his own morals. Do two wrongs make a right? Would this be what his ancestors would have wanted? What is the right thing to do, and at what price?

This book did suck me in and I read it pretty quickly once it got going. The pacing was nice and the writing was enjoyable. I must say though I didn’t really get too attached to any of the characters. There were one or two plot holes throughout which didn’t make much sense, I feel like they could have been addressed much better, but overall I really did enjoy this book. I gave it three stars because it isn’t one I would “re-read” in the future, but if you like thrillers and controversial issues, I’d probably recommend this to you.

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