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Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund
The title of Sena Jeter Naslund's novel, Four Spirits refers to the four young black girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing in 1963. This a novel about a turbulent time in a turbulent city. At the center of the novel is Stella Silver, a young white college student without a family, who finds focus in her life with the freedom movement. She is joined by Cat, a wheelchair-bound white woman involved in the civil rights movement. Christine is an angry black teacher inspired by Rosa Parks. Lionel is a black reverend who teaches high school dropouts. Ryder is an abusive Ku Klux Klansman. Four Spirits attempts to capture not just the struggle for equality, but each person's struggle for their own identity. Sena Jeter Naslund's novel has received mostly positive, but mixed, reviews. The New York Times says, "Naslund has done something unusually fine -- she's written a drifting, collective portrait of a city in distress."