This stranger-than-fiction true crime story finds Safran—a white, Jewish documentary filmmaker from Australia—relocating to Rankin County, Miss., to dig deep into the grisly stabbing murder of a 67-year-old white supremacist in April 2010. A 23-year-old African-American man named Vincent McGee pleaded guilty in the case, but this was no run-of-the-mill race crime. With allegations swirling of a money-for-sex relationship between the founder of a white nationalist organization and his black neighbor, the lure was too great for Safran (a self-proclaimed “Race Trekkie”) to resist. Armed with his Dictaphone and a thirst for the truth, Safran tracks down and interviews nearly all individuals associated with the case, resulting in wildly opposing accounts of what happened that spring evening. The result is a bizarrely unsettling, yet often witty book that paints a disturbing picture of the deep South today.
ISABEL'S WAR by Lila Perl
(This book is appropriate for YA readers as well as adults)
Published posthumously, Perl’s moving WWII novel set in the Bronx traces a Jewish girl’s growing awareness of the atrocities occurring overseas. At first, 12-year-old Isabel views the war as an inconvenience, bemoaning new rationing rules and the growing shortages of luxury items. Similarly, she resents the arrival of Helga, a beautiful German refugee with “a swanlike neck, and luminous gray-green eyes,” who ends up living with Isabel’s family when Helga’s American guardian turns ill. But as Isabel gleans bits of information about Helga’s horrific experiences in Germany and in England, where she was delivered as part of the Kindertransport, Isabel’s heart gradually softens. Now her problem is getting others to believe Helga’s tales and persuading Helga that she is not to blame for what her family suffered. This coming-of-age story offers an authentic glimpse of the 1940s American war effort and corresponding sentiments while introducing a realistically flawed heroine whose well-meaning efforts sometimes backfire.