7 Sanctuaries

Ben A. Sharpton
Novel Voices Press (2012)
ISBN 9780985446444

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (11/12)

Article first published as Book Review 7 Sanctuaries by Ben A. Sharpton on Blogcritics.

In his book “7 Sanctuaries,” Ben A. Sharpton introduces a series of seven vignettes focused on life in a small Southern town in the 1960s. Each vignette is viewed from a different perspective. However, each story is intertwined into a riveting, emotionally-charged reading experience.  For me the book became a challenging self-examination of acquired attitudes, core values, opportunities shunned, goals accomplished, friendships made, and relationships squandered.

Sharpton captures an unrestrained embryonic change taking place in a decade of fear-provoking, puzzling, and electrifying idealism, technological advances, desegregation, and war in Southeast Asia - an era filled with possibilities, of hopefulness, and prospect in the midst of a stormy world of conflict and despair.
Katie Franklin, who sought her sanctuary in family, found herself confronting the legal authorities to lend her support to the Freedom Riders. Katie’s son Rob, who sought sanctuary in education and the school gym, joins the conflict against the injustice, bias and the resultant hatred of racial bigotry. George Roberts sought after sanctuary through business success at a time when government intervention created an atmosphere leading to rioting and destruction. Stephen Phillips found sanctuary in the church and committed himself to saving kids from lives of depravity, drugs, and discrimination. These individuals and others are drawn together in the framework of sanctuary in a southern community of Springlake, Florida.

Ben’s writing creates a sense of the racial tension and resentment portrayed in the novel. I found the message to be a forceful reminder that the changes that took place in the era of the 60s is still in process. I was left with a gripping, lingering sense of realism as I relived those stormy times and became sensitive to a personal need to live more passionately and at a higher level of commitment to impact needed social change today.

Careful character development, a socially important plot, and insightful writing combine to make “7 Sanctuaries” by Ben A. Sharpton a masterpiece of brilliant writing.

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