At midnight on New Year’s Day, 1946, James Morgan, arguably the original Baby Boomer, was born to Mildred and Roger Morgan of rural Grover’s Fork, Alabama, an unlikely place to look for the future. But, history had other ideas as the backward-looking institutions of the Old South—King Cotton, Jim Crow, and patriarchy—teetered on the edge of collapse. The times, as Bob Dylan would later note, were changing, but not without pushback.
Best friends Mildred and Janet Bell had grown up in Grover’s Fork. Mildred returned after college to become a school librarian and marry Roger, a teacher at the high school and the son of the county’s power broker. Janet meanwhile pursued her dream of a career in journalism as a newspaper reporter in Montgomery, the state capital. Despite the separation, their friendship remained firm and they corresponded regularly, providing each other support through the tumultuous times to come.
When the Montgomery Bus Boycott triggers the civil rights movement, Janet finds herself covering the most important domestic story of the post-war period, a boon to her career, but not without sacrifices. Back in Grover’s Fork, tragedy finds Mildred, but she draws strength from James, comfort from Janet, and meaning from the poet Emily Dickinson to carry on. Until tragedy strikes again.
Tom Miller was born and raised in the Alabama Wiregrass when cotton was still king and mostly picked by hand. He attended the University of Alabama, did a stint in the U.S. Army, and eventually settled in corn country, a.k.a. Iowa, where he taught history at Scott Community College in Bettendorf. He is the author of six novels for middle-grade readers and scores of articles, essays, and reviews for journals, magazines, and newspapers. He also served for fifteen years on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Literature Festival. Now retired, Tom lives in Bettendorf with his wife of forty-one years, Connie. They have a son David and two grandsons, Dylan and Ryan.