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JT KalnayKalnay is an Ohio based attorney and a prolific author of both novels (The Keeper, The Pattern) and non-fiction.
History and Mystery Collide
In this world and time, the radio is reading Chloe's thoughts and playing music just for her. In another time and place, Ayodele is determined to learn what she must do to become an ancestor. Ayodele's life quickly becomes a living hell when she is captured and sold into slavery. Chloe's life also become increasingly complicated as she begins to learn about her heritage. Chloe wants to understand her history, but her mother only wants her to do more, to be more, and to leave whatever happend in Africa and in slavery behind. This book combines an interesting mystery played out by a captivating main character, with lessons about African history and religion. While the mystery and the characters kept me captivated, the history kept sending me to Wikipedia to look things up and for further information. I highly recommend this book.
Harold Lee RushHarold Lee Rush is a broadcast veteran who has worked in Radio, Television, Stage and Film in Chicago and Atlanta over the last four decades. He is currently a Broadcast Instructor for the City Colleges of Chicago at WKKC Radio.
Crossing Time and Space
The Crossroads of Time establishes African Americans as part of the vast worldwide African Diaspora. Johnson uses the rhythms and dance of Africa and the eternal spirit of the Orisha to unite Africans in the Motherland, Brazil and the United States as one ubiquitous people.
Chloe wants to do something with her life. She is a student at Cal State Los Angeles, but is dissatisfied with her mother's dream for her—take the right classes and get good grades so she can get a good job working for someone else. When she gets mysterious communications from spirits, she seeks the advice of a Candomblé priestess where she learns that she will find the answer to her questions in the wind.
Ayodele lives in a nineteenth century African village. She gets a message from the spirits telling her that her dream of doing great things in life will be granted with a price. Feeling exulted and puzzled, she seeks the advice of her father, the village spiritual leader. She, too, is told that she will find her answer in the wind.
Chloe finds herself swept away in the whirlwind of Oya, Orisha of the wind, from her comfortable twenty-first century world into the world of Ayodele, who had been captured by slave traders and sold to a Virginia tobacco plantation. As Chloe experience the horrors of slavery, she gains strength from understanding how the two worlds are connected by music and dance. But it's too much for Ayodele. She is driven to utter despair and it's up to Chloe to save her. Can Chloe touch this woman from another time and place? Johnson waste no time in establishing the time and place at the beginning of the novel. Right away, we see the potential for tension and conflict as Chloe defies the advice of those who want her to play it safe with her career.
I would say vividly expressing the thoughts and emotions of her characters is Johnson's forte as a writer. We only see scenery as it affects the characters, but we do see it. Whether the character is a nineteenth century slave auctioneer or a twenty-first century teen-ager, Johnson handles the dialogue masterfully The Crossroads of Time makes no effort to depict slavery as a benevolent institution and at one point touches on an aspect of it seldom, if ever, discussed in polite company.
Johnson ends her novel with a classic denouement that leaves no loose ends but did leave me wanting to read her next novel.
Reading The Crossroads of Time, I am reminded of the African-American heritage in which Johnson writes. Like Toni Morrison, David Anthony Durham and Alice Walker, she doesn't use one point of view throughout the novel, but let's key characters tell their own story before she weaves it all together.
All in all, I found The Crossroads of Time to be a well written book that could prove an important contribution to the vast body of African-American literature. And it's a good read.