In 1978, Peoples Temple, a multiracial church once at the forefront of progressive San Francisco politics, self-destructed in a Guyana jungle settlement named after its leader, the Reverend Jim Jones. Fatally bonded by fear of racist annihilation, the community s greatest symbol of crisis was the White Night; a rehearsal of revolutionary mass suicide that eventually led to the deaths of over 900 church members of all ages, genders and sexual orientations. White Nights, Black Paradise focuses on three fictional black women characters who were part of the Peoples Temple movement but took radically different paths to Jonestown: Hy, a drifter and a spiritual seeker, her sister Taryn, an atheist with an inside line on the church s money trail and Ida Lassiter, an activist whose watchdog journalism exposes the rot of corruption, sexual abuse, racism and violence in the church, fueling its exodus to Guyana. White Nights, Black Paradise is a riveting story of complicity and resistance; loyalty and betrayal; black struggle and black sacrifice. It locates Peoples Temple and Jonestown in the shadow of the civil rights movement, Black Power, Second Wave feminism and the Great Migration. Recapturing black women’s voices, White Nights, Black Paradise explores their elusive quest for social justice, home and utopia. In so doing, the novel provides a complex window onto the epic flameout of a movement that was not only an indictment of religious faith but of American democracy.
My Rating: 5 stars
White Nights, Black Paradise is an interesting read for all. I have to say, that I found this novel highly intriuguing. Until I read this book, I never heard of the historical events that are protrayed throughout this story. It was a great learning experience and insight for me. The characters, inside this amazing fictional world so brilliantly woven by Skivu Hutchinson, were realistic and shows readers the different lifestyles than we normally see. I kind of admire Taryn the opening character inside because she went through a lot to help and giv eher sister what she needed. A sister bond that lured me deeper into reading more. African Amercian lives were harder than what school texts led us to see. Definitely an eye opener. A church that experiences so many issues that the list in unending. White Nights, Black Paradise is full of many themes that will keep readers hooked until the very last page. I would recommend this novel to readers world wide.