Author: Suzette D. Harrison

Publication Date: February 8, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Book Description

I watched in awe as Miz Rosa stopped those men on the bus with her clear, calm “no” and I thought about that word. What if I said no? What if I refused to follow the path these White folks wanted for us? What if I kept this precious baby?

Montgomery, Alabama, 1955
On a cold December evening, Mattie Banks packs a suitcase and leaves her family home. Sixteen years old and pregnant, she has already made the mistake that will ruin her life and disgrace her widowed mother. Boarding the 2857 bus, she sits with her case on her lap, hoping that the driver will take her away from disaster. Instead, Mattie witnesses an act of bravery by a woman named Rosa Parks that changes everything. But as Mattie strives to turn her life around, the dangers that first led her to run are never far away. Forging a new life in a harsh world at constant risk of exposure, Mattie will need to fight to keep her baby safe.

Atlanta, Georgia, present day
Ashlee Turner is going home. Her relationship in ruins, her career held back by prejudice, she is returning to the family who have always been her rock. But Ashlee’s home is not the safe haven she remembers. Her beloved grandmother is dying and is determined to share her story before she leaves…

When Ashlee finds a stack of yellowing letters hidden in her nana’s closet, she can’t help the curiosity that compels her to read, and she uncovers an old secret that could wreak havoc on her already grieving family. As she tries to make sense of what she has learned, Ashlee faces a devastating choice: to protect her loved ones from the revelations, or honor her grandmother’s wishes and follow the path to the truth, no matter where it may lead.

For readers of The HelpOrphan Train and Before We Were Yours comes a beautiful and heartbreaking novel about redemption, family secrets and the spirit of survival found at the hardest time.

Book Review

The Girl at the Back of the Bus is an excellent book about family, love, and race that everyone should read.

In 1955 in Montgomery Georgia, Mattie Banks rides the bus to get an abortion. Rosa Parks is on the bus, and Mattie witnesses her refusing to move to the back of the bus. Rosa Parks give Mattie the inspiration to fight for her baby and to focus on her want to keep the baby over the opinion of others. Mattie struggles as a pregnant teenager and raising her baby.

Present day, Ashlee Banks is struggling with her career so takes time off to spend time with family. Ashlee’s relationship is not going well and her boyfriend is not supportive of her time off or questioning her career. Her grandmother is dying but shares a story she wrote years ago with Ashlee. Ashlee is left wondering how much of the story is true and if she should share it with her family. Ashlee also discovers the character in the story is dealing with some of the same problems as she is right now.

The Girl at the Back of the Bus is one of my new favorite books. The story was very moving and impactful. There is so much emotion and important descriptions of the life of a black woman in 1955 and present day. I loved the format switching between the past with Mattie’s story and present day with her granddaughter, Ashlee’s, story. Mattie’s struggles as a teenager raising a baby and trying to improve her life were very touching. I think this story is especially important to read with all the race issues that have been brought up over the last year. Ashlee was passed up for a promotion because of her race and is dating a white man. She has discussions and arguments with her boyfriend about how she is treated because of her race. The love between the Banks family is strong and uplifting to read about. The family was put in difficult situations but always sticks together.

Thank you Bookouture and NetGalley for The Girl at the Back of the Bus.

About the Author

Suzette D. Harrison, a native Californian and the middle of three daughters, grew up in a home where reading was required, not requested. Her literary “career” began in junior high school with the publishing of her poetry. While Suzette pays homage to Alex Haley, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison as legends who inspired her creativity, it was Dr. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that unleashed her writing. The award-winning author of Taffy is a wife and mother of two teens, and she holds a culinary degree in pastry and baking. Mrs. Harrison is currently cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cupcakes. 

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