The Return of Gabriel
The summer of 1964 begins calmly enough. Cooper Grant, Jubal Harris, and Squirrel Kogan form a secret society called the Scorpions, hoping to even the score with the local bully, Reno McCarthy. But when civil rights workers come to their small Mississippi town and the Ku Klux Klan responds with intimidation and terrorism, the sultry days and nights are transformed into Freedom Summer.
As events unfold, the town begins to crackle with tension. A cross burning on the lawn of Squirrel’s house scares his family out of town. Mr. Grant insists on Cooper attending KKK meetings with him. And at the Oak Grove Baptist Church, where Jubal and Cooper are members, Reverend Graham begins to issue warnings—premonitions of Klan attacks he says have come from the “angel Gabriel.” But then Gabriel mysteriously disappears.
Filled with suspense, The Return of Gabriel takes readers deep into a not-so-distant era—where three friends, confronted with decisions well beyond their years, grapple with eternal issues of shifting loyalties and the nature of heroism.
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Praise and Prizes
“This richly peopled story partakes of To Kill a Mockingbird’s atmosphere of a society in which whites and blacks cannot expect equal justice.”
“John Armistead tells a powerful story, with marvelous characterizations and a finely paced, page-turning plot. This well-crafted historical novel is not only an involving story but also a potent, thought-provoking political scenario.”
“The Return of Gabriel paints a dramatic picture of a chapter in the Civil Rights era in Mississippi, bringing the period to life for today’s teens. Young people today are aware of the continuing presence of racism in our own society, and in reading this novel they can become better acquainted with the process that led to the comparative racial tolerance and multiculturalism we know today in America.”
“A wonderful and emotional picture of the difficulty that faced people who were African American who wanted to change the system, as well as those who were white Americans that wanted to help. It will be read by young people who will not be able to put it down.”
“Inspiring . . . Readers will remain riveted as the action rises to a fever pitch.”
“A suspenseful, compelling story of boys having to grapple with decisions that are well beyond their years. Their determination to keep their friendship intact despite all the pressures to end it will resonate with readers. An inspiring story set during the contentious Freedom Summer.”