A Different Drummer by William Melvin Kelley

I do not know what drove me to pick this book up since it was a couple of months ago but whatever it was, served me well.

To begin with, the acknowledgments were some of the most heartfelt and well-written ones that I have ever had the fortune to read. A lot of acknowledgments I come across usually range from simple to comic or even have an inside joke that we might not quite get but these were simple straightforward and good. It made me look forward to the story itself.

This is a reprint of a book published in 1962 and it talks of a little (fictional) town in southern united states in 1957. There were still a few years to go before segregation in a lot of things was going to be completely eliminated but the issues surrounding it still had strong roots in the town of the tale. It is not a long story, it does not cover a lot of time despite having a few flashbacks. It does, however, cover a lot of people. Each chapter jumps from the point of view of someone in the picture in the previous chapter and gives a better understanding of what they thought or felt and lets the story progress. The people that we get insights into are all white but have varying degrees of involvement in the ongoing events and almost all are directly impacted in some form or fashion. We do not get to see exactly what the African- American participants think of it all except for what they choose to convey to the people around them. Despite the insignificance of some of the narrators in the larger picture, they provide insight into the ongoing events and paint very vivid imagery of the time and place.

It started off slow and I did not expect to like it as much as I did. With each passing chapter as we go deeper into the mechanics of the town and all the small pieces that come together, it felt like an uplifting (while simultaneously being harrowing) and powerful read. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is on the lookout for a serious read. It is a strong contender for a place in any Book club’s to-read list.

I received an ARC of the reprint thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is completely and solely based on my reading experience.

Book Depository (Affiliate link)

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