The Fog Machine
This exploration of prejudice and what enables and disables change is set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1964 and told from three very different perspectives. To Joan Barnes, 12 years old in the summer of 1964, freedom is her birthright. As for Mississippi's Negroes, freedom was settled by the Civil War, wasn't it? Negroes are no longer slaves. As the child of upper middle-class Yankee Catholics living in predominantly Baptist Mississippi, where family roots are as deep as those of the towering loblolly pines, Joan simply wants to belong. This need repeatedly puts her at odds with what she knows to be right. And it will take her years to understand that freedom means making choices. To C. J. Evans, born to a life of cleaning white folks’ houses, freedom is the size of a human heart, never bigger or smaller. It comes from within and can’t be given or taken away. And, as her waiting-on-heaven Baptist preacher and white-controlled schools have taught her, freedom takes a back seat to staying safe—whether she’s working as a maid to Joan's family in Jim Crow Mississippi or as a live-in domestic in Chicago, where the rules are far more subtle. To Zach Bernstein, Jewish University of Chicago law student, freedom is an ever-expanding circle, like a balloon that can be blown up bigger and bigger without bursting. It’s in the songs the summer volunteers sing to ward off the fear that they, too, will end up like James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, missing since June 21 and presumed dead. It’s in Zach’s faith and commitment to tzedakah—justice and righteousness. It’s why he has come to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to teach at the Meridian Freedom School. As their lives collide, they each question what freedom means and the price they’ll pay to have it.
Praise For The Fog Machine…
"Thank you for remembering my brother. Great book! Great job!" —Ben Chaney, founder, James Earl Chaney Foundation
"A literal page turner. Poetic and prophetic, woven from the spectrum of cultural collisions our society offers. The Fog Machine should be read, heard, and shared." —Jackie Roberts, The BookClub
"Captures essential, often overlooked elements of the Freedom Schools: teachers encouraged to improvise in response to their students and African Americans courageously offering hospitality to young whites from the North. Bravo!" —Staughton Lynd, Freedom School Coordinator, Mississippi Freedom Summer
"Insightful and highly readable. Written with sensitivity and insight about the nature of prejudice. The Fog Machine will resonate with teens and older readers alike." —John Dittmer, author, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
"Susan Follett beautifully weaves the story of main character C.J. Evans’s struggles: protecting herself and those she loves while following rules she increasingly suspects can change. Never patronizing, The Fog Machine paints an honest picture of the Civil Rights Movement. Follett understands that those we love shape our worlds." —Sara L. Wicht, senior manager, Teaching and Learning, Teaching Tolerance
"Eloquently captures your heart and mind from first page to last. A powerful book for use in schools. A must read for anyone interested in truth and justice." —Micki Dickoff, filmmaker, Neshoba: The Price of Freedom
"Engaging and impeccably researched. Sure to spark discussion of social change in the 1960s as perceived by people of different racial and socioeconomic groups and locales." —Debbie Z. Harwell, author, Wednesdays in Mississippi: Proper Ladies Working for Radical Change
"This beautifully crafted story of young people grappling with the deep wound of systemic racism invites us to remember history and 're-member' relationships. It reaches beyond the silences of our history toward the connection to which faith calls. Recommended for anyone compelled by the ways in which race still divides us.” —Mary E. Hess, professor, Educational Leadership, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
Lucky Sky Press, 9781941038505, 406pp.
Publication Date: June 2, 2014