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The Outskirts of Hope: A Memoir

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In 1967, when Jo Ivester was ten years old, her father transplanted his young family from a suburb of Boston to a small town in the heart of the Mississippi cotton fields, where he became the medical director of a clinic that served the poor population for miles around. But ultimately it was not Ivester’s father but her mother—a stay-at-home mother of four who became a hig In 1967, when Jo Ivester was ten years old, her father transplanted his young family from a suburb of Boston to a small town in the heart of the Mississippi cotton fields, where he became the medical director of a clinic that served the poor population for miles around. But ultimately it was not Ivester’s father but her mother—a stay-at-home mother of four who became a high school English teacher when the family moved to the South—who made the most enduring mark on the town. In The Outskirts of Hope, Ivester uses journals left by her mother, as well as writings of her own, to paint a vivid, moving, and inspiring portrait of her family’s experiences living and working in an all-black town during the height of the civil rights movement.


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In 1967, when Jo Ivester was ten years old, her father transplanted his young family from a suburb of Boston to a small town in the heart of the Mississippi cotton fields, where he became the medical director of a clinic that served the poor population for miles around. But ultimately it was not Ivester’s father but her mother—a stay-at-home mother of four who became a hig In 1967, when Jo Ivester was ten years old, her father transplanted his young family from a suburb of Boston to a small town in the heart of the Mississippi cotton fields, where he became the medical director of a clinic that served the poor population for miles around. But ultimately it was not Ivester’s father but her mother—a stay-at-home mother of four who became a high school English teacher when the family moved to the South—who made the most enduring mark on the town. In The Outskirts of Hope, Ivester uses journals left by her mother, as well as writings of her own, to paint a vivid, moving, and inspiring portrait of her family’s experiences living and working in an all-black town during the height of the civil rights movement.

30 review for The Outskirts of Hope: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kate Olson

    (4.5) Stars A heartbreaking memoir that is scarily close to today's reality in much of our country today. Thanks to Book Sparks for the review copy of this book. First of all, let me be clear that I read stories of racism written by whites VERY carefully to determine whether it is being written from a "white savior" viewpoint. And YES, this is written from that viewpoint, however, it's a memoir. It's based on real events, and real feelings and real people. And Ivester did her research and fact (4.5) Stars A heartbreaking memoir that is scarily close to today's reality in much of our country today. Thanks to Book Sparks for the review copy of this book. First of all, let me be clear that I read stories of racism written by whites VERY carefully to determine whether it is being written from a "white savior" viewpoint. And YES, this is written from that viewpoint, however, it's a memoir. It's based on real events, and real feelings and real people. And Ivester did her research and fact-checked her mother's journals with the citizens of Mound Bayou, so how can anyone say she can't tell this story? Aura Kruger, by all accounts, appears to be a remarkable woman and reading her story was absolutely fascinating. Reading about Mound Bayou itself, as well as the Jim Crow environment and the KKK, was difficult, especially given the parallels to today's society, and I think Ivester did an admirable job of being careful to not give this story a fluffy and feel-good air. It's a raw story, especially given Jo's experiences, but she doesn't sugarcoat that. I also didn't get the impression that the Kruger family "saved" anyone - Ivester makes sure to let readers know just how much like outsiders they felt during their time in Mound Bayou, and how complex racial tensions were. The author's own traumatic experiences during her time in Mississippi are dealt with in an understated but rightfully shocking way, giving readers an understanding of her reluctance to face this story until much later in life. Of course, reading a narrative by a black citizen of Mound Bayou about that same time period would be an amazing parallel read, and I will definitely be looking into more memoirs such as this but written from the opposite perspective. I highly recommend this story to readers of nonfiction who are trying to make sense of racial issues in the US today ~ OUTSKIRTS OF HOPE provides some background in the format of a story that most of us haven't been aware of. TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual assault of a child

  2. 5 out of 5

    Story Circle Book Reviews

    "My parents were foot soldiers in President Johnson's War on Poverty." So begins The Outskirts of Hope: A Memoir of the Deep South by Jo Ivester. She continues: One of the president's first actions after announcing his new program in 1964 as to send his lieutenants in search of the poorest spot in the country. Expecting to find it in Appalachia, they were surprised to discover it instead in the cotton fields of Mississippi. Three years later, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, Ivester's p "My parents were foot soldiers in President Johnson's War on Poverty." So begins The Outskirts of Hope: A Memoir of the Deep South by Jo Ivester. She continues: One of the president's first actions after announcing his new program in 1964 as to send his lieutenants in search of the poorest spot in the country. Expecting to find it in Appalachia, they were surprised to discover it instead in the cotton fields of Mississippi. Three years later, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, Ivester's pediatrician father makes a unilateral decision to move his family from a Boston suburb to Mound Bayou, an all-black town in the heart of the Mississippi delta, where he opens a clinic. Ivester is the only white student at her junior high school. Mound Bayou is considered a safe place despite the violence during the Civil Rights movement. Founded in 1887 by ex-slaves of Joe Davis, it is an all-black town with its own town government and school system. The Ku Klux Klan isn't as much of a concern as elsewhere, so there isn't much fear that a clinic in an all-black town will suffer bombings or arson attacks. And so in August 1967 Leon and Aura Kruger move their family to the Deep South. Although the clinic provides needed medical care to the people of the area, it is her mother who comes to have the most impact on the town. Ivester tells the story of the family's two years in Mound Bayou largely based on her mother's diary, but also includes reconstructions of some of her own diary entries. This provides the reader with two perspectives, that of Aura, a 44-year-old mother of four, who must uproot her family, leaving behind everything she'd ever known, including a daughter (a college freshman); and that of a 10-year-old adventurous tomboy. Aura struggles with the fact that she was not consulted about the move, worries that she is failing her children by depriving them of the educational opportunities available in their suburban schools, and suffers from long hours of boredom when the rest of the family is off at work or school. She confesses to Leon how useless she feels, and he suggests she look into teaching, something she feels unqualified for. A few days later the Superintendent of Schools asks her to teach English at the high school and convinces her to give it a try. Her impact on the students and the community is profound as she introduces them to their own literature and history and empowers them. Ivester's memoir is a powerful story of the effect one family has on a community and fills in another piece of the history of the civil rights movement. I was captivated by her account of the triumphs as well as the personal costs of confronting racism. Once I began reading, I couldn't put the book down until I turned the last page. She reminds me that the courage of just a few can make a difference even in situations that seem overwhelming and challenges me to take what may seem to be just one small step. I highly recommend this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Merrill Frazier

    I realize this is the journal of a woman from the era but holy hell. One minute she is flipped out about leaving her cushy Boston life and a week later she is a savior of the black community, teaching kids to speak properly and conform to her ideals and her culture. I had a hard time reading this book within that context and I couldn't help thinking what an arrogant woman she was. She made no effort to get to know these folks and meet them on their terms. The whole book just rubbed me the wrong I realize this is the journal of a woman from the era but holy hell. One minute she is flipped out about leaving her cushy Boston life and a week later she is a savior of the black community, teaching kids to speak properly and conform to her ideals and her culture. I had a hard time reading this book within that context and I couldn't help thinking what an arrogant woman she was. She made no effort to get to know these folks and meet them on their terms. The whole book just rubbed me the wrong way.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Coleman

    This is a compelling, true story of an ordinary family who spends two years in extraordinary circumstances. It tells a captivating, honest tale of a white family in an all black town in the height of the civil rights movement. It is full of tenderness, love, drama and goosebumps. The family, often ignorant of the dangers facing their neighbors from the KKK, through sheer passion for helping others, develops a deep love for the community, which is reciprocated in kind. Until something happens, and This is a compelling, true story of an ordinary family who spends two years in extraordinary circumstances. It tells a captivating, honest tale of a white family in an all black town in the height of the civil rights movement. It is full of tenderness, love, drama and goosebumps. The family, often ignorant of the dangers facing their neighbors from the KKK, through sheer passion for helping others, develops a deep love for the community, which is reciprocated in kind. Until something happens, and they are forced to leave. Full disclosure: Aura and Leon were my Great Aunt And Uncle, and while I knew and loved them both, the familial relations are not my reason for the 5 star review. I found the book a page-turner. It is full of daily simple acts of kindness and tenderness and the not-so-subtle horrors of discrimination. Aura is a delightfully flawed character beginning her journey as an honored educator. And the simple, innocent interjections from a 10-year-old Jo, bring goosebumps. Read this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Stark-Nemon

    Reading The Outskirts of Hope takes a child of the 60s back to that time where hope indeed lurked on the outskirts of political turmoil, economic prosperity (for many) and social revolution. With a narrative carried on in the mixed perspective of a no-nonsense practical mother and a ten year old child, each taking care of the business of adjusting to a father’s decision to uproot and move his white family to a black town in the deep south, Outskirts poses the large questions of race, poverty, se Reading The Outskirts of Hope takes a child of the 60s back to that time where hope indeed lurked on the outskirts of political turmoil, economic prosperity (for many) and social revolution. With a narrative carried on in the mixed perspective of a no-nonsense practical mother and a ten year old child, each taking care of the business of adjusting to a father’s decision to uproot and move his white family to a black town in the deep south, Outskirts poses the large questions of race, poverty, self-determination and justice through the lens of one family in one town. Jo Ivester, using her mother’s extensive journals, charts each member of her family’s challenges and victories, offering the reader an authentic view of a complicated time. The birth of her mother’s career as a teacher- of literature- showcases the importance of preserving and telling these stories.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jena

    “During the height of the civil rights movement, my family moved to a small, all-black town in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, where my father opened a clinic and mother Aura Kruger, taught English at the local high school.” This book is a memoir, written by the youngest daughter Jo, but mainly told through the diaries of her mother Aura. At the time, the Kruger family was one of the only white families living in Mount Bayou. Aura kept journals from the time she lived there, so the book is bu “During the height of the civil rights movement, my family moved to a small, all-black town in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, where my father opened a clinic and mother Aura Kruger, taught English at the local high school.” This book is a memoir, written by the youngest daughter Jo, but mainly told through the diaries of her mother Aura. At the time, the Kruger family was one of the only white families living in Mount Bayou. Aura kept journals from the time she lived there, so the book is built on those. Jo destroyed her own, but recreated her entries. I have some seriously mixed emotions on this book. I understand that this is a memoir so this is her telling the story of her family. However, it comes across at times as very privileged and skates dangerously close to perpetuating racist stereotypes. Which is where I struggle, because I don’t think that was the intention of the author. Obviously no one intends on coming across as borderline racist, but I actually don’t even think they had racist views, privilege aside. It just comes across the way this is pieced together. First, let’s touch on the privilege. The first few chapters are from Aura’s perspective on her sudden move from a nice middle-class life in Boston to living in a trailer in Mississippi. The change is drastic, and according to her mother, she didn’t even have a vote. She simply went along with her husband, who decided this was what he wanted to do with zero input from his wife. Yes, it was the 60’s, but it doesn’t make him likable at all. I had issue with how she complained, extensively, about her concern for where they were going to live. When offered that they should live in a “shack” like the rest of the town population, she nearly had a stroke. Coming from the perspective of someone who wanted to help end racism and bring change during this tumultuous time, she seems very self-centered. Even after she gets two trailer (not one, but two), and they have carpenters build them a connecting room, plush with all the luxuries of water, AC, power, heat and indoor plumbing, she never takes any time to consider how to help the town. The most frustrating part of reading this, is that she makes friendships with people in this town. Yet, it’s never discussed or talked about how her family lives in drastic luxury compared with most of the other people. Or at least, that is how it comes across. She mentions quite a few times her “worry” for their lack of heat, shoes, clothes that fit, etc. But, there isn’t any mention of her trying to do anything about it. She has connections to get three students full scholarships to an east coast college, yet she can’t raise money to buy shoes or clothes? Which is my major problem with the underlying privilege of the book. She has her own views and standards, and insists on everyone meeting them. Take the three page example of teaching phonetics and the word ‘ask’ for a glaring example of that. Education was important to her. And I agree, and even see where she is coming from. But, shoes are probably an immediate problem she can help with. Where we come near perpetuating racist myths is in Jo’s entries. Nearly every entry she talks about boys grabbing her and trying to reach down her pants. Of the 8 entries she has from her childhood perspective, 4 of them are about this type of molestation. She certainly makes it seem that every teenage boy in that town grabs her in inappropriate ways except for her three friends. Again, I understand this is her perspective, but she’s writing this from memory. If she didn’t want to perpetuate that racist myth, she could have worded these entries differently, or added a few that actually talked about other experiences. Overall though, they just aren’t very likable. I think the biggest piece of enjoying a memoir is actually enjoying the people you’re reading about. I didn’t like the husband at all. He seemed cold and indifferent to his wife and children and never noticed their struggles. Either this portrayal didn’t do him justice, or he simply cared more about helping people other than his own family. Aura doesn’t come across as very likable frequently either. She seemed spoiled, privileged, slightly arrogant and very self-centered. She complains about how her husband is oblivious to her unhappiness, yet seems absolutely just as clueless about her own children. The scene where she made her injured daughter get out of bed to create a “scene of familial tranquility” is absurd. Her attitude is described as Pollyanna positive but seems to be very passive-aggressive instead. She complains but then tries to spin it after complaining. It gets old. Yet, when Jo revisits the town decades later, the scene she paints are like reading an entirely different book. People remember her cleaning tables for pinball money, and she seems to have good childhood memories. Yet, all that was recreated was the bad. For someone trying to bridge the gap in race relations, painting living in an all-black community as terrifying and miserable probably isn’t the right angle to take. Her students even had more powerful stories about how she helped them. These memories from the students takes away from the self-righteousness and savior type attitude, and highlights more of what they remembered. It makes her seem actually more giving and helpful than she made herself sound. The journal entries were maybe focused on her own view of what was important, but again, perspective matters. Of course, her own encounter with a boy who assaulted her left a bad taste in my mouth. But, that whole last section of the book was infuriating all around. It’s probably not surprising that I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. I would have preferred to read a book that was less reliant on only journals and memory, and perhaps had included some of the impressions the students themselves had. It would have taken more of the white savior feel out of it, and made it more in depth and meaningful. Thank you to BookSparks and She Writes Press for a copy to read and review as part of your pop up blog popportunity!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    It was a good story. I couldn't help feeling frustrated that this just sounded like another "Great White Hope" story. Aura clearly did some good in the community and went on to have a major impact on her students - and her story was definitely worth telling. It was a good story. I couldn't help feeling frustrated that this just sounded like another "Great White Hope" story. Aura clearly did some good in the community and went on to have a major impact on her students - and her story was definitely worth telling.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Barko

    This book is the May 2019 selection of South Austin Spiritual Book Group. The framework for this memoir contains both the author's mother's comments and her own, recounting their two years in Mound Bayou, MS. A white person's view of what the rural South was like in the early '60s, this story makes an indelible mark on what it was like to live, work, and go to school here. This book is the May 2019 selection of South Austin Spiritual Book Group. The framework for this memoir contains both the author's mother's comments and her own, recounting their two years in Mound Bayou, MS. A white person's view of what the rural South was like in the early '60s, this story makes an indelible mark on what it was like to live, work, and go to school here.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kate Raphael

    I found this book more moving than I expected. At times, I was sobbing. The story is told alternately from the point of view of Jo, the author, who is 10-12 at the time of the action, and her mother, Aura. Interestingly, Aura's story was more compelling to me for most of the book. Perhaps that's because Jo is reflecting on her child self as an adult, while she has Aura's journals to guide her and is also using her imagination more. Or maybe it's just because the adult's struggle is more upfront. A I found this book more moving than I expected. At times, I was sobbing. The story is told alternately from the point of view of Jo, the author, who is 10-12 at the time of the action, and her mother, Aura. Interestingly, Aura's story was more compelling to me for most of the book. Perhaps that's because Jo is reflecting on her child self as an adult, while she has Aura's journals to guide her and is also using her imagination more. Or maybe it's just because the adult's struggle is more upfront. Aura is a beautifully drawn, complex and reluctant heroine. It was not her idea to move South - her husband makes the decision, apparently without even consulting her, and seems both surprised and unconcerned when she expresses doubts. He makes no effort to prepare her for the challenges they will encounter, the lack of trust by the African Americans they are going to "help", the pitfalls of being white antiracists but still having white privilege. Not only does he do nothing to shield her from messing up, but when she does, he doesn't stand up for her, explaining that she didn't understand. Still, he does eventually connect her with people who give her a purpose of her own and sets her on the path to making her own deep contribution to the community. I loved the way the book ends, even as it is tragic. I also thought Ivester did a great job of giving details that show not only the story we know about the Jim Crow South but the ways that it was changing. There's a great scene where Aura and Leon take a group of kids to the movies in Nashville, and they're able to sit in the front of the theater not because it was integrated but because the group made it clear they wouldn't sit in the back and the proprietors didn't want to lose the money. Little episodes like that added up to a very nuanced picture. It's a story of deep compassion and empathy for all the characters.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Ivester’s memoir takes place during two years out of her childhood when her white family went to live in a black town in Mississippi in the late sixties. The tone is compassionate, the language fluid, and the treatment sensitive to the race relationships of the times. It is also an experiment in writing a joint memoir from the journals of her deceased mother and from her own memories, and that is where it breaks down for me. The book sings most in the mother’s voice, especially in her unmistaken Ivester’s memoir takes place during two years out of her childhood when her white family went to live in a black town in Mississippi in the late sixties. The tone is compassionate, the language fluid, and the treatment sensitive to the race relationships of the times. It is also an experiment in writing a joint memoir from the journals of her deceased mother and from her own memories, and that is where it breaks down for me. The book sings most in the mother’s voice, especially in her unmistaken love for the black high school students who bring her to life as much as she awakens them to their own place in history as she has them study the writings of black activists and leaders. In this sense, the book is a magnificent tribute to the mother who taught English literature effectively under difficult circumstances with intelligence and spunk, and as such deserves the rating I give it and the reading it should get. However, I feel the daughter is too much in her shadow, yet it is the daughter’s experience that is a riveting cornerstone of the entire family experience during their two years in Mississippi. This accounting gives me a sense of the socio-political dynamics but leaves me with many questions about the family's personal turmoils, particularly the daughter's, at play in this “adventure.”

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Jo Ivester takes us back to the 1960s in Mississippi through the eyes of her mother, Aura Kruger, and herself as a ten-to-twelve year old girl. This book is so much more than being about a white family who moves to an all black town deep in the South. This story is about Aura Kruger and Jo Kruger and their journeys as a woman and girl in a town where even the simplest, most honest of actions could bring about retribution from the KKK or the black community. As Jo tells the story of her mother te Jo Ivester takes us back to the 1960s in Mississippi through the eyes of her mother, Aura Kruger, and herself as a ten-to-twelve year old girl. This book is so much more than being about a white family who moves to an all black town deep in the South. This story is about Aura Kruger and Jo Kruger and their journeys as a woman and girl in a town where even the simplest, most honest of actions could bring about retribution from the KKK or the black community. As Jo tells the story of her mother teaching at the high school, I found myself wanting to be one of Aura Kruger's students. For she seemed the best of educators Mississippi or the United States could have. She took risks to teach her students; and teach she did. She challenged and exposed her students to ideas and materials which they never would have confronted had she not been their teacher. Jo tells of what happens to herself to make the family leave town, and I wanted to jump through the pages and throttle the boys. Yet, Aura and Leon face the adversity head-on, Aura with grace and honesty while shaking inside. As a reader, I've come to love memoirs which is something I never thought I would say. This is much more than a memoir. After a few pages it becomes a story with characters you fall in love with, root for, and cry with. I received a copy of this book from Sparks Press for my honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Schneider

    A captivating story during the height of the civil rights movement. I won this book in a goodreads giveaway

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    Thank you to Booksparks for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. I’ve been trying to write this review for two days and still don’t know how to put my reaction into words. I also don’t know what exactly I’d been expecting when I opened the cover, but I do know that I got a lot more from this book than I could’ve anticipated. There’s a lot of emotion and passion in the words and actions on these pages. Aura didn’t know what to expect from the all-black commu Thank you to Booksparks for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. I’ve been trying to write this review for two days and still don’t know how to put my reaction into words. I also don’t know what exactly I’d been expecting when I opened the cover, but I do know that I got a lot more from this book than I could’ve anticipated. There’s a lot of emotion and passion in the words and actions on these pages. Aura didn’t know what to expect from the all-black community of Mound Bayou, but she found her stride in the classroom there. Her passion for educating the students and empowering them to become successful citizens oozes from the pages. And then there’s Jo. Hearing her childhood memories intermingled with her mother’s journal entries really added a dimension to the story that helped to round it out. And there’s an incident that happens to Jo that ultimately leads to the Kruger family’s hasty move to Miami. It’s a traumatic incident, as you may have surmised. What stands out to me the most about this incident is that it did not stop Jo from going back to Mound Bayou as an adult, reconnecting with the people from her past, putting these words to the page, and becoming an advocate for others. This stands out to me because I think this book and these words are important for everyone to hear.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    This memoir is a compelling, heartfelt account of a family from New England who moves to Mississippi in 1967 when the father agrees to start a health clinic in what was the poorest region in the nation. The story is compiled from journals kept by the mother and the youngest daughter, Jo, who was 10 when they moved. It was so interesting to read their stories, as they try to fit in with their new community as well as trying to make a difference. The story is filled with triumphs and struggles and This memoir is a compelling, heartfelt account of a family from New England who moves to Mississippi in 1967 when the father agrees to start a health clinic in what was the poorest region in the nation. The story is compiled from journals kept by the mother and the youngest daughter, Jo, who was 10 when they moved. It was so interesting to read their stories, as they try to fit in with their new community as well as trying to make a difference. The story is filled with triumphs and struggles and is an honest reflection of what life was like; problems that still exist today, 50 years later.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Randi

    The Outskirts of Hope tells the story of a privileged family who moved to a destitute southern town in an attempt to bring positive change to the residents.

  16. 5 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    This memoir was both interesting and disturbing. The most interesting parts were about Jo Ivester's mother finding her niche in life teaching disadvantaged students. And most of this story was being told by her mother Aura Kruger, who started writing down her memories in a journal in her 80s, not told by the author who was in Mississippi from the ages of 10-12. Ms. Iverster did keep a diary during that time period, but she tore it up due to a very bad incident involving her and some older boys i This memoir was both interesting and disturbing. The most interesting parts were about Jo Ivester's mother finding her niche in life teaching disadvantaged students. And most of this story was being told by her mother Aura Kruger, who started writing down her memories in a journal in her 80s, not told by the author who was in Mississippi from the ages of 10-12. Ms. Iverster did keep a diary during that time period, but she tore it up due to a very bad incident involving her and some older boys in the town. This was the most disturbing thing in the book. Not only was the author badly battered and sexually assaulted, but she had been repeatedly sexually harassed since arriving in the town. She did not tell her parents about the incidents, due to embarrassment. Since her parents obviously were raising their children to be independent thinkers and doers, she probably also felt it was just something she needed to deal with by herself. Unfortunately, she couldn't deal with it one day in a tree house, where she often went to hang out with boys, and she was badly injured. This brings us to the day the author's pediatrician father comes home from a trip after the assault. He knows nothing about the matter, and the author's mother gets her out of bed and props her up in another room so her father could relax a bit, before hearing the news. He didn't like to be told family problems when he first arrived home from apparently anywhere, and his wife obliged. Seriously! This was the other huge disturbing matter in the book. Jo Iverster's father was incredibly concerned about the disadvantaged, but at times seemed to be greatly lacking in concern about his own family. Aura Kruger's father ran a numbers racket for the "Jewish mafia", and she explained in the book how her father was a dictator, whereas her husband was much kinder. Yes, in some ways he was kinder than her father, but she obviously did not realize how in other ways he was like her father. (Oh, but one big difference that should be noted was her father showed much more concern than her husband about her and the children's safety.) When the doctor hears what happened to his daughter, he gets a bat and goes out. Does he find the boys who assaulted his daughter and beat them with the bat? No, of course, not. What he ends up doing is making his wife talk to one of the boys when the boy wants to apologize. Not only that, but Dr. and Mrs. Kruger wanted to make absolutely sure it was known their daughter was not "raped"; possibly to show they didn't consider truthful the Jim Crow belief that black males would rape white females if they associated with them. The Kruger family still leaves town, however, due to the fear the KKK would hear about the matter and the boys involved would be murdered. It was just amazing how much concern they showed for those boys. If they had been the white sons of KKK members, would they have shown such compassion? The whole matter sort of killed the story for me. It is nothing short of strange how this story focused on being fair and helpful to the disadvantaged in the 1960s, while displaying terrible treatment of females in the 1960s. What's most terrible about it is that the mistreatment of females is not even acknowledged in the book. Although the author does return to the town as an adult, and "confronts" one of the men who assaulted her. Yet on that same trip she mentions how her adult daughter, who was with her, is not bothered at all when men are making suggestive comments to her while in the town; whereas the author states she was always uncomfortable with such comments from males as a child there. This leaves the odd impression the author is thinking she may have been overly sensitive as a child or something! Hence, not only was she physically sexually harassed as a child, but also verbally, and her parents saw or knew nothing about the matter? Her mother never heard or heard of any vulgar talk about girls from the boys in the town? Her father never treated any beaten or sexually assaulted women or girls? At the end of the book, we discover the author's parents got divorced at some point after leaving Mississippi. No explanation is given for the divorce. One can only wonder that maybe after finding her calling as a teacher, Aura Kruger stopped being the dutiful wife, and realized at long last she had not been the "lucky" one the day she married the author's father. Jo Ivester also wasn't particularly lucky to have parents who were so strongly focused on the lives of the disadvantaged, that they weren't paying enough attention to the life of their youngest daughter.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    An affluent New England Jewish doctor moves his family to the poorest town in Mississippi in the 1960s to set up a clinic. In keeping with the times, he doesn't ask anybody in his family if they want to go. Just does the male domineering drill and takes drags his wife and children to a rural town. His wife has no job and his children have to change from highly academic, likely all white, schools to very poor all black schools. And his wife and daughter kept diaries. Jo Ivester is that daughter an An affluent New England Jewish doctor moves his family to the poorest town in Mississippi in the 1960s to set up a clinic. In keeping with the times, he doesn't ask anybody in his family if they want to go. Just does the male domineering drill and takes drags his wife and children to a rural town. His wife has no job and his children have to change from highly academic, likely all white, schools to very poor all black schools. And his wife and daughter kept diaries. Jo Ivester is that daughter and she has written a compelling memoir of that experience. While her father triggers the events, the perspective of this book is feminine. The story reflects the times and the challenges that have have rippled into the current era. It also shows how a woman rose to accept an enormous problem and worked to make a difference. Well worth the read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura Diamond

    A white Jewish Boston family in the early 1960's is uprooted by the father's idealistic drive to build a medical clinic in an all-black rural Mississippi town. Written in the voice of her mother, and herself as a child, author Jo Ivester recreates a time and place that completely drew me in and kept me reading far into the night. I devoured the book in three days, captivated by this family's journey -- emotional and physical -- and wanting to know what each new day would hold. These characters wi A white Jewish Boston family in the early 1960's is uprooted by the father's idealistic drive to build a medical clinic in an all-black rural Mississippi town. Written in the voice of her mother, and herself as a child, author Jo Ivester recreates a time and place that completely drew me in and kept me reading far into the night. I devoured the book in three days, captivated by this family's journey -- emotional and physical -- and wanting to know what each new day would hold. These characters will stay with me, which is the highest compliment I can give an author. I highly recommend this outstanding memoir.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Teressa

    This book really surprised me.First of all,I started reading it thinking that the mom was just going along for the ride,doing what her husband wanted to do,but it turned out that the mom ended up making the biggest impact in this true story written by the daughter later on in life.The kids did much better than I had expected as well until the attack of the young girl.Having the daughter go back to the town at the end of the book was a very good part of this book as well.I really did enjoy readin This book really surprised me.First of all,I started reading it thinking that the mom was just going along for the ride,doing what her husband wanted to do,but it turned out that the mom ended up making the biggest impact in this true story written by the daughter later on in life.The kids did much better than I had expected as well until the attack of the young girl.Having the daughter go back to the town at the end of the book was a very good part of this book as well.I really did enjoy reading this book,about a family that did some good in the world.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Martydamnit

    It was an inspiring story, and a very quick read. The few intermingled entries from Jo were fascinating, and it's a shame (though understandable as to why, once you complete the book) there were not more. However, I don't think I came away with a better understanding of how these two vastly different communities - the Krugers from the northeast and the people of Mound Bayou - bridged any cultural gaps or came to a better understanding of one another. Jo's return to Mound Bayou at the end hinted It was an inspiring story, and a very quick read. The few intermingled entries from Jo were fascinating, and it's a shame (though understandable as to why, once you complete the book) there were not more. However, I don't think I came away with a better understanding of how these two vastly different communities - the Krugers from the northeast and the people of Mound Bayou - bridged any cultural gaps or came to a better understanding of one another. Jo's return to Mound Bayou at the end hinted as some of that, but I was hoping for more.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    I really appreciate the story- being someone interested in public health and culture... This was a fascinating time in our culture and the racial issues that existed are forever imprinted in our history. I will always be open to learning more. However, it was a challenge to continue reading. I felt like the main voice was constantly whining, complaining, insecure, and greatly too submissive. I wanted to slap her and tell her to stand up for herself. Or take some responsibility for her decisions I really appreciate the story- being someone interested in public health and culture... This was a fascinating time in our culture and the racial issues that existed are forever imprinted in our history. I will always be open to learning more. However, it was a challenge to continue reading. I felt like the main voice was constantly whining, complaining, insecure, and greatly too submissive. I wanted to slap her and tell her to stand up for herself. Or take some responsibility for her decisions and actions. It was painful.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Monica Bruno

    A powerful, personal story of hope and change. Told from two points of view, a forty-five year old mother and her ten year old daughter, The Outskirts of Hope, is a story of a white family from Boston who move to a small, all-black community in Mississippi at the height of the Civil Rights movement. It’s a window into the American struggle for change and the consequences that change sometimes brings. Beautifully written, it’s a book you won’t be able to put down!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    I was hooked from the beginning. This book, set in the late 1960's, is comprised of Aura's journal, and to a lesser extent, her daughter, Jo's journal. Aura's journey is from a white Massachussetts housewife to English teacher in an all black town, Mound Bayou. Many of her students had never seen white people before. She is enormously successful as a teacher. Jo's entries are more disturbing especially for an eleven--twelve year old girl. I was hooked from the beginning. This book, set in the late 1960's, is comprised of Aura's journal, and to a lesser extent, her daughter, Jo's journal. Aura's journey is from a white Massachussetts housewife to English teacher in an all black town, Mound Bayou. Many of her students had never seen white people before. She is enormously successful as a teacher. Jo's entries are more disturbing especially for an eleven--twelve year old girl.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Buckley

    A very compelling story of a Jewish family living in a small Black town in Mississippi in the 60's when Jim Crow laws still ruled. Ms. Ivester used her mother's diaries and her own recollections to tell her story and I only wished she had continued to tell the family's story after they left Mound Bayou to go to Florida. A very compelling story of a Jewish family living in a small Black town in Mississippi in the 60's when Jim Crow laws still ruled. Ms. Ivester used her mother's diaries and her own recollections to tell her story and I only wished she had continued to tell the family's story after they left Mound Bayou to go to Florida.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Burkel

    Going back in time I truly enjoyed this book because it brought me back to a special time in my life-my high school years. It was easy to recall and relate to many of the things that were in the book. It was a very enjoyable read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This was a brave project. But even more than a firsthand account of blatant racism in Mississippi in the 1960s, it is a rich exploration of the difference a teacher can make in her students' lives, particularly if she is willing to learn from them in the bargain. This was a brave project. But even more than a firsthand account of blatant racism in Mississippi in the 1960s, it is a rich exploration of the difference a teacher can make in her students' lives, particularly if she is willing to learn from them in the bargain.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    A remarkable story of a white family in a Southern black community during the Civil Rights Movement. Told from the perspective of both the mother and the daughter.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Mommy Booknerd http://mrsmommybooknerd.blogspot.com

    An important read for today's time. A powerful and gripping memoir about the how an amazing family did their part to change the nation in a time of so much strife and struggle. 4 stars An important read for today's time. A powerful and gripping memoir about the how an amazing family did their part to change the nation in a time of so much strife and struggle. 4 stars

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Very interesting book. I read there is a movie about the time this family spent as the only white family in rural Mississippi in the 60's. I definitely will continue to explore this family. Very interesting book. I read there is a movie about the time this family spent as the only white family in rural Mississippi in the 60's. I definitely will continue to explore this family.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Peggy Hess Greenawalt

    Awesome book! Very well written, interesting, and inspiring! Truly a book for a book group to discuss. Well done Austin author, Jo Ivester! Highly recommended!

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