Martinac, Paula. “The Ada Decades”, Bywater Books, 2017.
Back to the 1950s
Ada Shook is a girl from a Carolina mill family who manages to do what girls from mill families are not supposed to do— she wants a career and strives to get one. She graduated from college on a scholarship and landed a good job as a school librarian. Set in the 1950s, the South was going through a turbulent time with integration and rocks with turbulence. Ada is soon caught up in the fight to integrate the Charlotte public schools. At the same time, she becomes friends with Cam Lively, a teacher who challenges her to reexamine her narrow upbringing. Through this the two young women fall in love and work together for the good of the schools yet all the while being afraid of being discovered and losing their jobs.
Ada, now in her 70s, has seen racism in all of its forms and how some use religion for both comfort and torment while the gay people have created their own networks to stay together. “The Ada Decades” is made up of eleven stories that are connected and together give us Ada’s life. I think it is important to note here that unless you are from the south or have lived there during this period, you might have a rough time understanding and/or accepting southern ways. Most of us who are members of the southern LGBT community tend to think like Ada but remember we were not always as visible as we are now.
What I really love about this book is that the story leads us to think about so much as we are reminded of how we once had to live.