This endearing first novel opens in 2010 but quickly segues into an extended flashback to 1977 and the college years of Joseph, a 17-year-old foreign student who has left his country to attend a small university in North Carolina. There he encounters a lovely girl named Wendy, but their friendship is complicated by conflicting romantic feelings and cultural differences.
In time, another beautiful young student begins to take an interest in the academically gifted Joseph, and before long their romance is in full bloom. Again, however, racial prejudice and disapproval casts pallor on the couple’s romance, which is also damaged by Francesca’s ambition to seek fame and wealth by becoming a fashion model.
Throughout this short but distinctive novel, Joseph remains non-reactive, never succumbing to anger when confronted by the racial prejudices of American students and their parents. Instead, he focuses on his studies, excels and is granted an academic stipend. While inter-personal relationships are often baffling and sometimes disappointing, Joseph remains true to his principles and standards.
A vivid and compassionate portrait of a young foreigner learning to survive in America’s south during a time of personal and national transition.
Reviewed by Kathryn Livingston for IndieReader