BOOK REVIEW: Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman

Scottsboro by Ellen FeldmanScottsboro
By Ellen Feldman
Completed July 21, 2011

The Scottsboro case was one of many ugly marks in American history. During the 1930’s, nine young black males were arrested for raping two white women in Alabama. Despite weak evidence and a wavering testimony by one of the women, each man was convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair. The case was an international outrage and was the most tried case in American legal history. And it provided the background for Ellen Feldman’s Orange Prize-nominated book, Scottsboro.

In the book, a young journalist, Alice Whittier, became fascinated with the Scottsboro case, and she convinced her editor to assign her to the trial. Alice was a feature writer at heart and didn’t waste time trying to get a human angle. She met each of the nine accused and talked to the two alleged rape victims. Alice could tell that one of the women, Ruby Bates, was lying about what happened. She took personal interest in Ruby, trying to convince her to do the right thing. For Ruby, though, doing the right thing was not an easy thing to do.

The book followed the case and its first appeal, when hot shot attorney, Samuel Liebowitz, agreed to defend the men. Feldman painted a picture of racism, anti-Semitism and sexism that permeated the entire trial. It was downright nasty. As I read the testimonies and court exhibits, I hung on to every word and move by the attorneys, judges and spectators. It was court drama at its best.

I can’t rave about Scottsboro enough. The Southern setting, social lessons and moving drama kept me at the edge of my seat. This is my first book by Feldman – but not my last. I highly recommend Scottsboro to anyone who likes to be riveted and moved by a great story. (  )


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. BermudaOnion
    Jul 23, 2011 @ 08:24:07

    I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while.


  2. Laura
    Jul 23, 2011 @ 08:34:32

    I thought about reading this last summer and chose other books instead. It may need to go on my Orange January list — it sounds EXCELLENT.


  3. Thoughts of Joy
    Jul 23, 2011 @ 09:09:39

    Thanks for bringing this book to my attention! I’ve put it on my TBR list. 🙂


  4. Dee
    Jul 23, 2011 @ 19:32:54

    That does sound good. And I’m sure my local library has a copy- hoorah!


  5. Ann Weisgarber
    Jul 24, 2011 @ 01:52:07

    I second your opinion about Scottsboro. I read it when it was first published, and I was swept away by the voices of the narrators. I had an opportunity to meet Ellen Feldman at the Orange Prize ceremony. That was as big a thrill as being in London. Good news! Her latest novel, Next to Love, will be released in a few days and it’s getting rave reviews.

    Jill, thank you for your terrific review of my novel, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. I appreciate it more than I can say.


    • mrstreme
      Jul 26, 2011 @ 02:31:50

      Hi, Ann! Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading my reviews. =) Color me jealous that you’ve met Ellen Feldman in person at the Orange Prize ceremony! She’s very talented!

      And thank you for writing such a great book. I tell everyone about it! I hope it helps people to read your book. And I hope you have plans for a new book soon. Please keep me posted!


  6. nomadreader
    Jul 24, 2011 @ 01:55:32

    I read this one about a year and a half ago and loved it too! Last weekend I read her new book (it comes out this week, and my review will be posted Monday), and I loved it too. I need to make time for her earlier novels too. I’m so glad you loved this one too!


  7. Trackback: My Orange July 2011 Reading Wrap-Up « The Magic Lasso
  8. Ann Weisgarber
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 05:13:16

    Thank you for spreading the word about Rachel DuPree. I really appreciate it.

    I’m working on the last chapters of Book Two. I’ll let you know when I ship it off to the publisher. For now, enjoy Ellen’s Next to Love.


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