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Sena Jeter Naslund

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Four Spirits

Current Status:
In Season
Sena Jeter Naslund

We gave it a B+

Naslund follows her 1999 novel, ”Ahab’s Wife” — a 666-page historical epic about a 19th-century Nantucket woman — with a similarly complex and ambitious book. Set in 1960s Birmingham, Ala., ”Spirits” traces the blossoming civil rights movement through a host of characters, including Fred Shuttlesworth, minister of the Pilgrim Baptist Church; Stella Silver, a local college student; and Ryder Jones, a bomb-crafting racist: ”He took down his Klan robe on its hanger and made the robe flutter in the air like a ghost. The way it rippled was noble, like a flag.” Not many authors can juggle multiple points of view, but Naslund manages the task beautifully — and brings a fresh set of eyes to an oft-visited period.