Pre-Civil Rights Mississippi was a place where issues of race and class weighted down air already heavy with humidity. Jonathan Odell takes this complicated setting and throws two young mothers from widely different worlds together.
Hazel, a wealthy white woman, and Vida, a poor black woman, are at first only joined by the devastating loss of their children—and their enmity for one another. Vida is frequently harassed by the racist local sheriff, which, combined with the loss of her son, has made her bitter and mistrustful. When Hazel’s husband hires Vida to take care of Hazel after a drunken car crash, close proximity and lack of other companionship force Vida and Hazel to learn to get along. The two team up to turn their town of Delphi, Mississippi, on its head, and watch as change takes place—in their city, their state, their nation and their culture.
This is the third novel from Mississippi native Odell (The Healing), and it draws from his own experience. Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League is quintessentially Southern in its frank discussions of friendship, marriage, family, feminism, grief and redemption.