The Emancipation of Evan Walls
Momma Leighellen's Author Interview
“The biggest thang that kept us down all these years ain’t been the KKK and shackles on our feet. It’s been the shackles on our brains.” – The Emancipation of Evan Walls.
What It’s About
The Emancipation of Evan Walls takes place in Virginia during the 1960’s and follows the life of a young black boy named Evan as he navigates the complexities of school, friendship, and love. Though a fictional tale, it reads more like a memoir as author Jeffrey Blount has the uncanny ability to make the story come alive. Told in first person narrative, we follow the hardships and hurdles when Evan’s desire to learn comes in stark contrast with his need to fit in.
Evan is an incredibly bright boy with a thirst for knowledge. When he succeeds in school and gains the attentions of his teacher, he quickly learns not everyone is enamored with his successes. His peers are angry, his parents embarrassed and that leaves Evan confused. He seeks advice from an uncle and grandmother, who help him navigate life within the black community.
Similar to the ways The Vanishing Half opened my eyes to the topic of passing, The Emancipation of Evan Walls shares the black community’s taboo subject of acting white. Evan’s black friends and family eventually choose to abandon him and at one point he is attacked and hospitalized when he tries to defend a white friend.
“I was in the world with these black people, some of whom were my friends and family. Yet I felt close to no one.”
This is a story that will make you uncomfortable. The story itself was immersive and I flew through the reading. But the topics and themes were ones that unsettled me, made me pause. This is a book you chew on, marinate in, and need to discuss.
“I just know the range of white folks, from the paddy rollers to the Klan, and to them that helped with the civil rights. A Negro needs to be able to tell the difference so they’ll know who to go to in the times of strife.”
I want to be an agent of change. I want to be safe haven, a mentor, and a light for those around me. Books like this rattle me when injustice comes to light. While a tough topic, the story is full of hope and redemption. It all comes to a head when Evan has a daughter and must decide whether to share about his difficult past or not.
I was able to interview Jeffrey and discuss this book in detail. As soon as I figure out how to post it (the file is giant!) I will share it. Until then, I highly encourage you to pick up this book! The more difficult conversations we can have about the complexities of racism, the more we are able to learn and grow. Thank you to @jeffreyblount and @uplitreads for the opportunity to read the book and share discussion.
To help get this book into more readers hands, I am giving away FIVE copies! To enter head over to my Instagram Page and follow the instructions:
- For an EXTRA entry, comment below with one of your favorite race related book you read this year.