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Growing Up White, by James P. Stobaugh

Interviewed on Audible Authors and Reviewed by Hubert O’Hearn, San Francisco Book Review, June 2014

There wasn’t much left to see of Bo Taylor and what there was you wouldn’t want to see, not after Evan Nash and the rest of the Klan had tied him Bo to a tree and skinned him alive. Welcome to Arkansas’ Bayou country in the mid-1960s.


Jake Stevens, who was age 10 when those events occurred, is now just turned 59 and not really handling the number of that birthday particularly well. So as many of us do when the present is grey and the future an evening leading to a dark and endless light, Jake looks back to the sunshine of his youth. Well, sunshine laced with the clouds of tragic killings. Jake is a Presbyterian lay preacher, and using all he has learnt of and because of his chosen life with God … he tries to make some sense of it all.


Author James P. Stobaugh is quite an elegant writer, verging on the poetic. Growing up White is very much a novel of mood and meaning and yes, quite explicit in religious intent. Clearly Stobaugh knows his material as in his day-to-day life he is a pastor as well as quite a gifted writer. One cannot help but admire writers who have a clear love of language and Stobaugh clearly has that. His words, images and just general flow of his Bayou-like pacing are common enough in excellent poetry; a rarity in prose. Rather fittingly, the first song referred to in Growing up White is ‘Moon River’, for Henry Mancini would be the perfect musical accompaniment for the reader to have playing in the background.


Listen to the interview with Dr. James Stobaugh, a Merrill Fellow at Harvard and holds degrees from Vanderbilt and Rutgers universities, and Princeton and Gordon-Conwell seminaries. An experienced teacher, he is a recognized leader in homeschooling and has published numerous books for students and teachers. He and his wife Karen have homeschooled their four children since 1985.
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