Leslie DuBois‘ Frugal Find Under Nine:
Description of Ain’t No Sunshine:
Updated Version 8/12/2011
Includes Reading Group Questions
This book tackles difficult subjects. The views and decisions of the characters do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the author.
Though it is against the law in 1960s Virginia, Stephen Phillips wants to marry his colored neighbor, Ruthie. Growing up in a physically abusive home, his love for Ruthie was the only thing that helped him survive. Instead of giving in to social and family prejudice, Stephen decides to fight for love. And it’s a fight that could lead to murder. Racism and revenge darken this psychological drama set against the backdrop of the segregated South.
-A shocker of a book and a quick read.
-It twists and turns and will leave you surprised at the end!
-Thanks for a great read. I highly recommend this story of young love and what one would do to hold on to it.
-This story wowed me. I was drawn in immediately and the wonderful narration kept me glued. The imagery is strong and the dialogue is believable and engaging. I was moved by the characters and cared about their outcome.
-I loved this book. I just finished reading one book and I opened it up and could not put it down. I read every single word to the end and I really loved the ending. I read the ending twice just to savor it! I downloaded her other title and find it just as enticing.
Amazon Reader Reviews:
Ain’t No Sunshine currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.5 stars, with 151 reviews! Read the reviews here!
Ain’t No Sunshine is available for purchase at:
Excerpt from Ain’t No Sunshine:
The officer placed a cup of black coffee on the table in front of me.
“I don’t drink coffee,” I said, continuing to stare out the window at the Chicago skyline.
“Well, you might want to start. You’re not going anywhere for a while, son.”
I crossed my arms and slouched in the chair. “I’m not your son,” I said through gritted teeth. I focused on a pale yellow Volkswagen van driving past the window of the police station. I shook my head with frustrated regret. I should have bought a new car before we left. I never thought a broken taillight, of all things, would land us in this police station. Now they were asking me questions. Questions I wasn’t prepared to answer. Not yet, anyway.
The officer didn’t respond at first. The only sound was that of the rotating fan in the corner of the room, blowing out the same hot, stale air.
“Fine,” he said after a few minutes. “Let’s talk about whose son you are then, huh?” He took some pictures out of a file and laid them out on the table. I refused to look; I knew what they would show. “Do you see this, Stephen? Why don’t you look at your father’s mutilated body? Beaten to death with a shovel outside his own home.”
He picked up one of the pictures and waved it in front of my face. I shut my eyes tightly. I was there when it happened. I knew what it looked like. I didn’t want to be reminded of the image; it was already permanently ingrained in my mind.
“Did you do it, Stephen? Did you kill your own father in cold blood?”
I kept my eyes closed and refused to answer. The image of my father’s bloody corpse floated behind my eyelids.
“No, you couldn’t have done it.” I heard the officer’s footsteps as he walked to the other side of the room. “There’s no way a smart, wealthy boy like you could murder the man that took care of you and loved you for eighteen years.”
I opened my eyes and glared at the fat, sweaty man interrogating me. “My father never loved me. Never!”
His eyes expanded. My tone shocked him. He took a step back as if he was actually afraid of me for a second. He quickly recovered his composure, though. “Well, then I guess you did kill him.”
I bit my tongue and turned away. I had already said too much. There was no way he was getting me to talk. Not yet, anyway. I needed a few more minutes to get my thoughts together.
“I guess we’re gonna have to do this the hard way,” he said after a few moments. He sat down in the chair across from me and opened his file again. “Maybe I’ll just have to ask that pretty little colored girlfriend of yours,” he said, staring at Ruthie’s picture and licking his lips.
“You leave her out of this.” My hands clenched into fists.
“I don’t know if I can do that. She seems to be pretty involved.” He kept staring at her picture as he spoke. “Your father is found dead at your home in Virginia and you’re found seven hundred miles away with a nigger whore. I can’t -”
He didn’t get to finish his thought. I leapt across the table and started pounding his face in. Seconds later, I was subdued by several officers. They placed me back in the chair and handcuffed me to the table as everyone stepped outside and decided what to do with me.
This was getting worse and worse by the minute. I’d gladly go to jail for killing that man. He deserved to die. I just didn’t want Ruthie to get dragged into this. After all we’d been through, at least one of us deserved a chance to be happy.
After what felt like hours, another officer entered the room. He placed a bottle of peroxide and some napkins on the table.
“You gonna behave?” he asked, holding up the key to the handcuffs. He was much younger than the other officer. With his dark hair and blue eyes he kind of reminded me of my older brother, Matthew, except with a bushy mustache. For some reason, I felt I could trust him.
I nodded and he unlocked my handcuffs.
“What’s that for?” I asked, indicating the peroxide.
He looked at me strangely. “Stephen, your face is covered in cuts and bruises. The officers who subdued you kind of went a little too far. You have open wounds. You’re bleeding.” He pointed to a couple of places on my face. “Doesn’t it hurt?”
I shrugged and reached for the bottle and paper towels. I didn’t feel pain like most people. It was a coping mechanism I’d developed at an early age.
“I’m Lieutenant Drake,” he said, still staring at me as I cleaned my wounds. “This must have been a hard few days for you.”
“Your father is dead, your mother is missing, and you and Ruthie are on the run.”
“Why are you running? You know running only makes you look guilty, and I don’t really believe you killed your father. I don’t think you’re capable.”
I stared at him. “You have no idea what I’m capable of. You have no idea what that man did to me.”
“You’re right. I don’t,” he said, trying to hide his surprise at my response. He sat down and crossed his arms. “So why don’t you tell me? You obviously have a story and you need someone to listen. So tell me your story. Tell me everything.”
I don’t remember when I met Ruthie. She was just always there. She was the reason I woke up in the morning, the reason I survived as long as I did in my father’s house, and the reason he deserved to die.
He did everything he could to keep me away from her. One of my earliest memories was of sitting in the front pew of my father’s church and twisting my neck to odd angles in order to get a glimpse of Ruthie in the colored balcony. I remember thinking that whites and coloreds weren’t even allowed to worship God together, how were they supposed to be able to fall in love?
On one occasion, when I was about five years old, I turned around for too long. My older brother, Matthew, grabbed my hand as a silent gesture to let me know that I needed to turn back before my father saw. But it was too late. As the choir began their rendition of Amazing Grace, I knew no amount of grace would save me from what was coming next.
When we got home, my father sent Matthew to the store. I knew that meant trouble. He always sent Matthew away before he went into a violent tirade. He knew Matthew wouldn’t tolerate it. Matthew was sixteen years older than me and proved to be a formidable opponent for my father. Any time my father lifted a hand to me or my mother, Matthew was right there diverting my father’s wrath. It always ended up turning into a fierce knock-down-drag-out brawl between the two of them. I think my father began to fear Matthew, thus the new habit of sending him away.
I knew not to tell Matthew what my father did while he was gone; that would just result in a worse beating. I didn’t mind that much. It was kind of easier this way. The beating was much shorter and I didn’t have to watch my father and brother pound on each other over something that was my fault. I just shouldn’t have turned around in church. I needed to learn to control my desire to see Ruthie. The sooner I learned that, the easier both of our lives would be.
“Remove your shirt and lie on the floor,” he instructed me.
“Yes, Father.” I obeyed, and then watched as he pulled the scourge out of its storage place next to his rifle. It was a special device my father had created that was like a whip with stones in it. He said it was what they used to beat the Christ.
“Do you know what you have done?” he asked, staring at the whip and caressing it like it was an old friend.
“Devil in Disguise” by Elvis Presley played on the radio. I tried to focus on the music as my father slowly, methodically laid the whip out on the couch. Then his quiet footsteps followed him over to the radio on top of the television. He switched it off. He didn’t like anything covering over the sound of the whip against my skin. I think he enjoyed it.
“Yes, Father,” I answered him.
“Never look at the coloreds,” he said, glaring at me. I turned away so I wouldn’t see the evil gleam in his eye. I buried my face in the shag carpeting, nearly inhaling the fibers. “I’m going to beat those desires out of you.”
Tears stung behind my eyes, but not because of the impending torture. His words hurt more. Ruthie was colored. I wasn’t supposed to want to be with her. My desires were wrong.
The first blow across my back knocked the wind out of me. I gasped and tried to concentrate on making the room stop spinning. It hurt like hell, but I wasn’t allowed to cry. If I cried, he would hit me until I stopped. So I just took it. Even at that young age, I had learned how not to cry or show any emotion at all, for that matter. I was an expert at getting people to see what I wanted them to see.
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