Review: “Trial Day” by Tananarive Due

3 of 5 stars.

Through the filter of a young girl with her mix of knowing and naivety, this story shows the fear of living in racially segregated America in which lynchings go uninvestigated and black teens are given the death penalty for alleged robberies.

9 y.o. Lettie lives with her business-owning Daddy and cruel stepmother who resents her husband’s two kids by different moms. Brother [Wallace Lee] lives an hour deeper into Klan country with his poverty-stricken mother. Lettie’s mother, also poor, is an Obeah priestess living nearby. Brother, 15 y.o., has been accused of a crime and “justice” wants to act quicker than a defense can be scraped together. With his mother of low means, Brother stands little chance of avoiding “The Chair” unless his middle-class father is willing to stand up for him. But there’s no guarantee that his father will do so . . .

The themes of this story fit as topically today as when it was written ten years ago–possibly more. However, the tale doesn’t resolve which is a disappointment and especially confounding with a throw-away final line implying a long life for Lettie and no resolution on the trial and family conundrum.

Appearing in the anthology, Ghost Summer, this short story first appeared in Mojo: Conjure Stories, ed. Nalo Hopkinson (Aspect / Warner Books).
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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