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The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store

Author : James McBride

Genre : Fiction

James McBride has written a classic that beautifully addresses the complex issues of race, religion, and personal history. This story is a fictional account of his maternal grandmother. In 1972, when workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development, they find a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who is it and how did it get there?

The residents of Chicken Hill live in a dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side in 1936. This is where Moshe and Chona Ludlow lived when Moshe integrated his theater and where Chona ran the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. When the state came looking for a deaf boy to institutionalize him, it was Chona and Nate Timblin, the Black janitor at Moshe’s theater, who worked together to keep the boy safe.

As these characters’ stories overlap and deepen, it becomes clear how much the people who live on the margins in America struggle and what they must do to survive. Here is a YouTube video of the author where he talks about the themes in The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store:

 

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