Synopses & Reviews
In the idyllic town of Lake Esther, Florida, little is allowed to ripple the surface calm—which is just the way Sheriff Kyle Deluth likes it. But when Deluth "removes" two young children from the local school because of the color of their skin, the sheriff's senseless act of cruelty sparks a fire under the women of Lake Esther that will scorch the lives of all involved. In their pursuit of justice, an indomitable heiress, a revered journalist, and a fading Southern Belle will forge an unlikely alliance across the racial divide. One that will change the face of the town—and their lives—forever.
Deeply moving and peopled with a rich cast of characters, Susan Carol McCarthy mines the hotbed of racism with insight and compassion. Bittersweet, inspirational and wholly compelling, True Fires confirms McCarthys reputation as a dazzling new voice in probing real-life events to interpret the injustices of our past.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Susan Carol McCarthy lives in Carlsbad, California. Her acclaimed debut novel, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands
, was the winner of the 2003 Chautauqua South Fiction Award and was named one of the Best Fiction Books of 2002 by San Diego Magazine
From the Hardcover edition.
Reading Group Guide
1. Discuss the significance of Florida as the setting for this novel. How does this locale compare to Daniels recollections of North Carolina and to your cultural impressions of other Southern regions?
2. Access to quality education lies at the heart of the novel. What aspects of this debate are still played out in todays public schools? What factors determine a childs educational opportunities in your community?
3. What are Lilas motivations in defending the Dare children? Would she have achieved the same level of success if her cause had been integration and the Dare childrens ancestry had been undeniably African American?
4. Big Nick the Bolita King and Sheriff DeLuth maintain a delicate balance of power. What determines whether a citizen has power in the town of Lake Esther?
5. Susan Carol McCarthy included several scenes depicting one of Sampsons bee colonies. Are “She Who Decides” and “He Who Provides” reflected in the novels main characters, or is the colony in a way superior to humanity? Discuss the colonys many roles in the novel, including as a self-defense mechanism and source of livelihood.
6. How do submissiveness and gender play out in Lake Esther? How does Lilas experience with love compare with the marriage between Birdilee and the sheriff, or between Ruth and her husband?
7. Discuss your own recollections or understanding of this time period. What new insight, historical or otherwise, did you gain from True Fires?
8. The press and the courts were key to the kinds of social change described in True Fires. In the novel, a judge and a journalist proved to have more impetus than the governor. What does this indicate about Americas political structure?
9. The novel is just as much Lilas story as it is the Dares; in a way, she is also seeking freedom. From what does she want to free herself? Does she succeed?