When we don’t know the answer, we take to our blog in hopes of finding someone who can help us, help our readers.
So last week, we got an email from one of our readers asking for help. Please read through the email and see if this reminds you of anything. If you know the answer, hollar back!
Hi. I lent a book to a friend 16 years ago — she lost it. I have tried finding this book again for the last 10 years to add it back to my collection, but I
have forgotten both the title and author’s name. But I remember the story fairly
I’m hoping since you bloggers have read so many books that you may be able to assist me.
The book had to be from the 1970’s because it had themes of Vietnam, and segregation/racism in the story.
Its the story of a young college man who returns home for his mother’s funeral. In the airport the sees the young men dressed in military uniforms from the Vietnam war, but he merely dismisses them as being part of a system that he rejects.
The son has issues with the father, because when he was a young boy he was in the bell tower of his father’s church (his father is a minister who married the boys
mother mostly because she could further his career — I believe the wife’s
father had also been a minister — or church elder) he had witnessed his father
having sex with a local socialite/married church member. The son blames the
father for driving his mother to an early death by continuing his relationship
with this socialite-church member through many years. Perhaps she even committed
suicide. The son believes his minister father is a hypocrite, and hates the
The socialite/lover had married an older man, and become wealthy and a favored citizen and upon his death had inherited his factory. She has a daughter by her late husband who is 17 and graduating from high school as the story begins.
After the death of the minister’s wife, the socialite doesn’t want to marry the minister right away (as he would like) because she doesn’t want to raise suspicion as to the length of their relationship. The minister has guilt around his late wife’s death. Even though he considered the wife cold and their intimate life unsatisfying, he knew that she was aware of (and hurt by) his long term affair.
Somehow the son ends up going to the senior high school dance (or prom — I forget). Also in attendance is the socialite’s beautiful blond 17 year old daughter who is
graduating from high school. The son, at first just to irritate his dad and the
socialite mom, shows some interest in the girl during the dance.
The girl is taken with the son, but he makes some rather forward moves on her — and
is rude — which scares the girl and leads her to chastise the guy for his obvious disdain for any and all.
At first, the son thinks the daughter is too naive for him, but he is quickly seduced by her beauty and sweet nature. They fall in love. The son is careful with her sexually, and uses condoms, and is decent to her, but he can’t help his extreme anger towards his father, resentment of her mother, or his support (as a liberated young white man) of the black citizens as they face segregation in their town.
The son takes the young 17 year old to the “black” side of town one night to a speakeasy. The son and the youthful blacks of the town want to rebel against the white establishment. The son becomes involved in a planned plot to crash the
socialite’s ball/party and present a play showing the hypocrisy and racism of the town establishment, and uses the girl to gain entrance to the party.
The young blacks like the girl, and don’t want to see her hurt, so they ask the son if he knows what he’s doing, and how this stunt will effect the young girl, but he is so wrapped up in his own pain and need for revenge, he pushes everyone along.
They do the play, which infuriates (and embarrasses) the socialite mom. She bans her daughter from seeing the minister’s son again, and also tells the minister that their relationship must also be put on hold. The girl is devastated.
The son returns to college. He figures that the girl will convince her mother to let her attend his college, and he’ll see her again. He is full of himself. The girl thinks he’s simply dumped her and returned to more worldly and older college women! A huge misunderstanding occurs.
But rejection and what college to attend is the least of the girl’s problems. One night before everything fell apart while on a date with the son at the beach, they re-use the same condom. The girl becomes pregnant, which she discovers after he has left.
Having been banned from seeing the son (and his not attempting contact because of his foolish idea that he’ll just wait for her to show up for school), the girl becomes depressed and desperate. She thinks herself rejected. She can’t communicate with her mother. The only person who knows of her plight and offers some sympathy is the black family maid.
Finally, the girl goes to the minister for counseling and help. She doesn’t exactly tell him that his son has knocked her up, but he figures it out (who else would it be!). The girl is horribly frightened and alone. The girl commits suicide.
When the socialite mother finds out the connection between the pregnancy, the minister acting as adviser to her daughter (but now telling her of the situation), and his son’s involvement — she immediately cuts end their relationship. She says they can’t possibly go on and marry after what his son has done. The minister is heartbroken but it wakes him up to his faults and he is changed.
The minister goes to visit his son at college to tell him of the girl’s death. The cocky son is there still thinking that his young love will turn up. The father tells him of her death, and the two men reach a break through in their relationship with each other. Both of them have been selfish and hurt (and caused the death of) people that they loved to selfishly get what they wanted. The son forgives the minister/father. They’ll help each other recover.
Do any of you have any idea the title of this book, or the author? For some reason, I think the son’s name in the book is Chris (but I’m not sure).
Thanks for your help. I’ve been to countless bookstores over the years searching for this book. I won’t give up til I find it (but it’s turned out to be a “needle in a haystack” situation since I don’t remember a title or author).
Thanks in advance.
Anyone have any clues? Anyone have the answer? Any help is greatly appreciated.
Rowena, Casee and Holly.