Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader View (7/18)
“Pleasure and Power” by Doug Brendel is an engaging fast-paced read that will keep you on your toes trying to figure out how an innocent young black girl who is bright, talented and hopeful ends up in a crazy house only to be sexually abused and pregnant. Readers also follow Jake Valentine, a wheeling-dealing, arrogant man who takes advantage of everyone for his own personal gain.
The story takes place in the 1950s in Leland, Ohio, where a dirt field serves as a divide between the black and white parts of town. Fourteen-year-old Maddie is black, dirt poor, and is magical on the baseball field – until she is hit in the head with a ball one day and ends up “crazy” and is placed in an institution where she is the only black patient.
Jake Valentine originally from Leland, leaves the deadbeat town to attend college where he finds everything so easy if you just put on the charm. He decides to return to Leland for a chance to become rich in a “smaller pond.” It is during this time he meets and falls in love with Alice Bohannon, the total opposite of his normal affairs. He and Alice get to know Ruby, Maddie’s sister when she comes to the Mission to get food for her family.
The storyline has a lot going on with the characters and the switch between Maddie and Jake’s story. Jake in the beginning just appears in the story after a brief narrative about Maddie and her crisis. I found both characters to be well developed and essential for the plot, but sometimes it was confusing to see them suddenly appear.
I thought the author did an excellent job of describing the racial divide during the timeframe. The attitude that blacks were only good for menial jobs and treated like second-class people lends itself to other subplots in this read. Having lived in the south in the 1950s I can relate to terms used about blacks, the racial divide and mistreatment in all areas of their lives.
I loved the concept of the book; the author accurately describes the era and keeps readers glued to the story to see what happens next. It certainly gives a lot of food for thought.Riveting and captivating, I highly recommend “Pleasure and Power” by Doug Brendel as you will experience every emotion on the spectrum. It has all the elements necessary in an excellent read.