REVIEW: VIRGIN SOUL, BY JUDY JUANITA

16158570Geneice Hightower, a young black woman who grew up in Oakland, CA, learned one very important thing from her family: get an education.

Determined to do just that, she begins by attending community college in Oakland, works part-time for the Welfare Department, and commences to learn some new ideas from her boyfriend and a group of friends surrounding him.

It is the 1960s, and things are heating up all over the US, even in the world around Geneice. By the time she transfers to San Francisco State in the mid-sixties, her ideas have become radical, and she finds herself immersed in the Black Panther party and all that comes with that membership. Guns, shoplifting, and more…all unimaginable to the girl she once was, but life has changed for her.

How does a spirited young woman with goals become such a different person? Is it simply peer pressure, or is there more involved? How does she change so radically? Could it be the glow of power she feels when she meets people like Stokely Carmichael, Huey P. Newton, and Bobby Seale? Or is it her need to take back some personal power that has been squashed out of her by the culture? Maybe it was about social change for her, but she got in over her head. And how does she find out who she is, without the movement, after following the revolution to the last rung of the ladder?

Having grown up in those times, even living in the Bay Area during the sixties, I can understand it completely, even though my perspective was more of the white anti-war protestor. College experiences, the times in which we lived, and the ability to open one’s mind to new things can have a big impact on a young person. Geneice’s story is emotional, charged with adventure, energy, fear and loss, and as the consequences unfold, we will completely understand another meaning of the title Virgin Soul: A Novel.

A mind that is pure and open and accessible to new experiences.

I felt as though I had been transported back to those times. A book I recommend for those who lived those times and want a nostalgic trip back…and for those who did not, but want to understand, from the point of view of a character living it. 4.5 stars.

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6 thoughts on “REVIEW: VIRGIN SOUL, BY JUDY JUANITA

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