The power of rage – “Forty Acres” by Dwayne Alexander Smith

September 21, 2014 at 7:13 pm 5 comments

18774967This book is such a great idea. In fact, it is so good I am surprised that this storyline hasn’t been done before.  For the story alone, Forty Acres is worth the read.  Just go into this read knowing that Smith is a screenplay writer. So in many parts of this novel it seems better written for the screen than a book.  I don’t think this takes much away from the story or what the author is trying to convey, it is just is a bit of a hiccup.

Martin Grey is an African-American attorney in New York. He and his partner are slowly building their law firm. When Martin wins a big lawsuit the firm’s success is guaranteed and he feels like things are all falling into place.  Adding to his new-found success, Martin is approached by an extremely successful African-American attorney, Damon. Damon invites Martin to meet some of his friends.  All of the friends are extremely successful African-American men who seem to have everything.  After a very careful vetting, Martin is invited for the group’s yearly white-water rafting trip.  When the private jet lands Martin begins to suspect that the armed guards meeting them are not taking them on a rafting trip.  Instead Martin is taken to a large plantation home, his bag is taken up to his room by a skittish caucasian boy. He realizes, fairly quickly, that he has now joined a secret society of African-American men who have enslaved caucasian people to serve them.  The society was established by Dr. Kasim who has determined that the only way to deal with black rage, and the painful history every black man must face, he must have the opportunity to be the master in the master-slave relationship.   He must have retribution. And so, Martin is faced with an awful dilemma, join the society or be killed himself so the society can remain secret.

This book is labeled a thriller. And it is that, but it is more.  Smith has found an interesting way to talk about how our history of slavery affects all of us.  How it continues to control how our lives play out, particularly for African-Americans.  I found it really interesting.  Smith also addresses the anger and rage that is inside many African-American men and posits that without an outlet this rage will destroy.  The question is really what outlet is appropriate.  And what is justice, true justice, for the past generations enslaved and what is the right penance that those whose ancestors enslaved others must pay.  Smith obviously takes this to the extreme but what a great way to grab the reader’s attention.  Either way, rage and the history of slavery cannot be ignored – and if Ferguson, Missouri shows us anything, it is surely that we, as a nation, continue to live in the shadow of both.


Other reviews to check out: 

Entry filed under: September 2014 reads. Tags: , , , , , , .

My favorite reading time That evasive thing in writing – “Swimming Home” by Deborah Levy

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. FictionFan  |  September 25, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Enjoyed your review and thanks for the link!

    This is definitely one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read this year, even though on the face of it it’s ‘just’ a thriller. Glad you thought highly of it too. 🙂

    • 2. Emily C  |  September 28, 2014 at 7:30 am

      Yes, I agree. I am still sorting it out. It was disturbing but so interesting.

  • 3. Callie  |  October 5, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Reading this per your recommendation. Very interesting thus far.

    • 4. Emily C  |  October 9, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      Awesome! I hope you like or at least find it interesting.

      • 5. Callie  |  October 9, 2014 at 11:45 pm

        I did. I didn’t really notice the screenplay aspect until I reread your review. I think it was somewhat distracting, especially at the end where it was a classic sequel set up.

        You’re right the story line is so original it makes up for so much. I feel like this could be a 600 page or more, more believable novel on the level of Stephen King. Because of it’s originality it works with what it has. I read it in three days so it was engaging.

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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