Category Archives: Alamance


Emily H. Nelson. Thrown. Raleigh, NC: E. H. Nelson, 2011.

Ohio resident Pheobe Price decided to attend Elon College to put some distance between herself and her past.  In high school Phoebe became part of a close circle of friend and was in love with a wonderful guy, Jeff. Only Jeff wasn’t so wonderful.  When Phoebe finds him flagrante delicto with one of the other girls in their group, she looses not only Jeff, but most of her friends.

Getting away by going to a small, friendly college like Elon seems like the right thing to do, but leaving the past behind is easier said than done.  Jeff has had yet another change of heart.  He writes and calls Phoebe pressing for a reconciliation, and he even comes to campus to see her.  Distressing as this is for Phoebe, she is even more troubled by what Jeff’s betrayal has done to her.  She’s less open with other people, less sure of herself, and careful to keep her heart locked up.

Phoebe goes through her first semester at Elon in this cautious, closed-up state, but things change early in Winter Term after she meets William Garrett.  William is a junior who looks like he stepped out of a J. Crew catalog.  Phoebe is attracted to him, and he to her.  As their relationship develops, Phoebe feels her trusting nature and optimism return, but some uneasiness is still there.  William is from England and his father works at something that cannot be discussed.  The mystery that surrounds his family and his life back in England is a cloud over Phoebe’s happiness.  As Thrown moves to a dramatic conclusion, Phoebe will have to decide if she can embrace William and his father’s dangerous business.

Emily Nelson is a graduate of Elon University, and readers who know the university and the surrounding town will enjoy her warm, accurate depiction of the campus and the community.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Alamance, Nelson, Emily H., Piedmont

Alex Haley. Roots. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1976.

This blockbuster novel, and the television mini-series made from it, are widely acknowledged as the sparks that ignited the genealogical craze in America in the 1970s.  It also started a national conversation on topics that had been off limits for most Americans–slavery and race.

Working from his own family’s history, Alex Haley tells the story of Kunta Kinte and his descendants.  Kunta Kinte’s early life in Africa, his capture and sale to slave traders, and the horrific sea voyage to America hold the reader’s attention for the first third of the book.  In America, Kunta is sold to a plantation owner in Virginia.  As the years go on, Kunta attempts escapes, but freedom will not be his.  Yet Africa remains alive in his mind, and he passes words and stories of his homeland on.

The scholar Michael Eric Dyson, writing in the introduction to the thirtieth anniversary edition of Roots says that the novel “helped convince the nation that the black story is the American story.”  It is also a North Carolina story.  Kunta’s daughter Kizzy is sold to a cockfighting ne’er-do-well in Caswell County.  That man rapes Kizzy, fathering her only child, “Chicken George” Lea. George works with the master’s birds and becomes so valuable to the master that George is allowed to bring his love, Matilda, onto the farm.  Their family grows, but the master’s bad bet at a cockfight breaks the family apart. George is sent to England and the rest of the family is sold to a more prosperous plantation in Alamance County.  There they remain until after the Civil War, when the family moves west into Tennessee.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1970-1979, 1976, Alamance, Caswell, Historical, Piedmont