Summer of 1973 and I was not quite seventeen. My mother, not much of a reader, urged me to read Five Smooth Stones. Semi-reluctantly, I opened up the 900 page paperback was quickly swept up in the life of David and Sara who meet at college and ultimately marry during the early part of the American civil rights movement. The catch? David is African American and Sara is white.
I was raised by a moderately racist father and an enabling mother. Racially charged protests and riots had been held all over the country, even in my hometown, during the previous ten years. I never asked why. I was afraid of Black people.
Five Smooth Stones made me look at African Americans in a different way. It was the first book I’d read with non-white main character and I think I fell in love with him. I certainly loved his grandfather, who I fondly remember to this day. It also taught me about the civil rights movement and why African Americans were protesting. It changed me.
I think that is what my mother was hoping when she put the book in my hands and urged me to read it. I hope so.