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Lay that Trumpet in Our Hands

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  1,099 ratings  ·  179 reviews
Here is one of those rare and remarkable debuts that herald the appearance of a major new talent on the literary scene. Inspired by real events, Lay That Trumpet In Our Hands is a wise and luminous story about a northern family, a southern town, and the senseless murder that sparks an extraordinary act of courage.

To this day, my family is in disagreement as to precisely wh
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Bantam (first published January 29th 2002)
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,099 ratings  ·  179 reviews

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Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This novel is based on real events that happened in 1951 in Central Florida and paints a vivid picture of the KKK and race relations at the beginning of the civil rights movement. It very much reminded me of "To Kill a Mockingbird," and is told through the narration of a twelve year old girl who has moved from the north to a community in which her parents have an orange grove. When Reesa's close friend is killed by the Klan, Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP, Harry T. Moore who helped register blac ...more
Eli G.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lay that Trumpet in Our Hands is about a young girl named Reesa. She lives in Florida with her parents and brother. One night, Reesa finds her life torn apart as her close friend and mentor Marvin Cully was ruthlessly murdered by the KKK. Reesa and her family want the murderers to be punished. Throughout the book, Reesa and her family search for information regarding Marvin’s death.

Reesa changes greatly throughout the book. At the beginning of the book, Reesa is happy because she is with her f
Apr 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: High schoolers and above
Recommended to Reader by: A teacher friend
“Grief, I think, signs you up for a separate, invisible club, members selected at death’s awful randomness. ‘Gone forever’ is our password, lingering sorrow our secret handshake. If you haven’t lost someone important to you, you can’t begin to know the rules. Truth is, you don’t even know the club exists.”

It is hard enough to lose someone important to you due to natural causes or a tragic accident. But when someone is taken from you due to bigotry, inhumanity, hatred or any of ignorance’s other
Mar 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no-one at all
honestly so boring!! i get that this was based on true events and that was cool i definitely liked that the situation was brought to life via a novel but the execution of this book was poor. the concept, some characters, the setting, and character relationships were interesting i just found there to be absolutely no tension or anything that actually tried to be interesting or grab my attention. the climax could have been action packed and exciting but i couldn't have cared less. mccarthy has mad ...more
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A simply written but powerful story of the American south when the KKK still owned the orange groves of central Florida. The small nuances of the people of the time and the ever-present struggle in trying to understand why one should hate another solely because of the color of their skin ring constantly throughout the novel. Though not as long or thorough as To Kill a Mockingbird, I found it to be more personal and therefore, having a much stronger impact. Beautiful and touching:)
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a great read: the story is a bit of a cross between Mississippi Burning and To Kill as Mockingbird, and if you had had no exposure to those texts your opinion would be even higher I think. McCarthy has used actual events and the information given to her by her father to build this story of racism and the activities of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1950's in Florida. The writing is beautiful and the plot riveting.
Reneta Thurairatnam
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read. Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird. Told through the eyes of a child, which is sometimes the best way to truly understand something- without adulthood's preconceived notions. (Also loved that it was based on a true story and that the author's father is one of the main characters.)
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Based on historical events, this novel describes the frightening tactics and ubiquitous influence of the KKK in 1950's Florida, and two families-- one white, one black-- who are impacted by it.
So many facts about Central Florida that were new to me. Very curious if long-time residents of Florida would find this novel offensive in any way.
Boekenwurm Saskia
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fraai geschreven schokkend verhaal

‘Hoe de bij haar vleugels kreeg’ is de historische debuutroman van Susan Carol McCarthy. Het geeft een schokkend inzicht in de gewelddadigheid van mensen en vertelt op indringende wijze hoe moeilijk het is om samen te leven met mensen die verstokt en radicaal racistisch zijn.

Deze fictieve roman is gebaseerd op de ware gebeurtenissen die plaatsvonden in 1951 en 1952. Door de ogen van de 12-jarige Reesa zien we hoe haar beste vriend Marvin slachtoffer wordt van he
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
The comparisons between this book and "To Kill a Mockingbird" are inevitable: both are narrated by a young girl (although Reesa is 4-5 years older than Scout), both girls have a wise and peace-loving father (although Reesa also has a mother, two brothers and a grandmother), and both deal with racial incidents in the South (although this book is set in Florida about 20 years after the events in Lee's book, and, most significantly, the events in this book really happened.) It is 1952 and Reesa's f ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands literally made my heart ache. Details of life in Florida in the early 1950s, and the activities of the Ku Klux Klan are vividly told in this heart wrenching novel. A debut novel, it is written with the polish and insight of a seasoned author. The story is told by a young girl named Reesa. Her tale of life as a preteen during a violent time in our nation's history is told with grit and clarity. Her young black friend, Marvin, was killed violently by members of the KK ...more
Marcus Dingers
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it

exposition: the klu klux clan is a group of white males who believe that they are superior to people of a different race. The KKK was very popular in southern states. Marvin mcully was killed by the KKK in march of 1951. Four years after this event the montgomery boycott happened.

Setting: The setting is 1950s Central Florida.

Protagonist(s):Reesa McMahon,Elizabeth McMahon, Ren McMahon,Warren McMahon,Luther cully. Armetta Cully,Marv
Melissa Hedges- Rankin
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I randomly chose this book at a bargain bookstore and was pleasantly surprised; I couldn't put it down. From the epilogue, it was based on a real experience that occurred to the author's family. The heroine in the story reminded me of an older version of Scout from 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. The storyline gave you an inside look into 1950's racial tensions and the KKK in Florida before the civil rights movement.

Strengths in this novel: the characters were well developed, each with distinct dialo
Jerry Jennings
This is a gripping and historically based novel. The reality of clan in America and the dreadful ugliness of the 1950’s comes through strong. Plus the human courage, love and dignity of fighting these wrongs by individuals trying to make things better for the future is evident in inspiring. This is a good book for anyone wanting to see inside some of this countries painful struggles. Struggles that continue today. Well written and compelling.
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Prachtige vertelling, gebaseerd op waargebeurde feiten, over de wandaden van de Ku Klux Klan. Het verhaal wordt verteld door een 12-jarig meisje. Dit raakt meteen een klein minpuntje van het boek, want haar observaties en analyses van het gebeuren lijken niet altijd passend bij een kind van die leeftijd.
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Takes place between 1951 and 1952 in Florida, when the Ku Klux Klan ran south west fla. The story is told through the eyes of twelve-year-old Reesa McMahon, who is trying to make sense of her worl. Based on historical fact.
The south is known for its racial tensions, it still is. We cannot remain silent when we hear racial slurs. It only allows racism to continue.
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Why did I wait so long to read this book?! I loved that it was told through a child and was based on facts. I will never understand how people can have such faith and courage when faced with danger. I am awed by stories of people putting everything on the line, including their lives, to do what is right and help their fellow man.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.
Helpful reminder that there are good people of all stripes but hard to read some of the history of what happened to Black people in America. Author humanized the characters which enables the reader to place her/himself in the story.

Marilynne Dailer
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love this book set in Apopka, Florida. Written from the point of view of a young white girl during KKK Era in 1950s.
Feb 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: southern-lit
I posted this review first in my blog.

In the spring of ’51, Ressa McMahon and her family’s life change with the knock on the door in the middle of the night. Luther, one of their hired hands, begs Ressa’s father, Warren, to help him find his “son†Marvin who was abducted by the Klan. Marvin also works in the family orchard and has been a friend of the McMahon’s, teaching Ressa and her brothers about baseball. The two men find Marvin’s lifeless body. Over the next year, the Klan beco
Jane Van Hof
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Highly recommended.
Marcy Ashley
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While a work of fiction, it is obvious the author has done her research. Issues of injustice and racism are accurately portrayed throughout the novel. Excellent read!
Mar 06, 2014 is currently reading it
In Lay that Trumpet in Our Hands Susan Carol McCarthy shows a dark and sad time in Florida's history. Set in the 1950s Lay that Trumpet in Our Hands is based on true events of racial violence set in Florida.

This story is narrated by the main character Reesa McMahon a young girl who's family is from the North so it isn't easy for her them to adjust or begin to understand the way , or adjust to life in the south.Life for young Reesa is full of childish innocence and fun times with her family frien
Crysti Perry
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
It doesn't seem right to say I "enjoyed" this book. It infuriated me! It also inspired me. It's so hard for me to believe that human beings could have ever been so horrible. Yet, it also made me wake up more to realize that it never really stopped; it simply took on a new "face". I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up in a used book store. I only bought it because the front cover said it was reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird . The fact that it was based on horrific event ...more
Ms. Albert
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, adult
The triggering event in this story is when Marvin Cully, a Florida share-cropper, is murdered by Klansmen. The author based this event on a real event, the murder of Marvin Womack, that happened in 1951. The real murder was never investigated, probably because the police chief, most of his men, and most likely the governor of the state of Florida at the time, were all Klansmen. The author brings her own story to a more satisfying ending, but not without a struggle.

Told through the eyes of Reesa
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Although this book doesn't hold a candle to a book like The Help, I think it has a different intended audience and it works well for young adults. I am always impressed when an author can take well known facts from history and build a fictitious story that incorporates them. The reader knows something that the characters don't know, but the reader is still intrigued. In this case, the death of Medgar Evers, the early career of Thurgood Marshall, and the budding civil rights movement are incorpor ...more
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010
Here is one of those rare and remarkable debuts that herald the appearance of a major new talent on the literary scene. Inspired by real events, Lay That Trumpet In Our Hands is a wise and luminous story about a northern family, a southern town, and the senseless murder that sparks an extraordinary act of courage.

To this day, my family is in disagreement as to precisely when the nightmare began. For me, it was the morning Daddy and Luther discovered Marvin, beaten, shot, and dying, in the Klan’s
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've been plodding through quite a few books lately, and many have felt like a bit of a chore. This one, though, despite it being "assigned reading" as the school's community book this year, was my break from the others and the pleasure I turned to when I just couldn't do it with my other books.

McCarthy does a wonderful job with characterization and imagery, and I felt very much a part of the racially-tense/violent mid-20th century central Florida community she describes. Many reviews seem to c
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Lay that trumpet in our hands... 1 24 Sep 21, 2009 05:53PM  
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“Oh, child, there's no explainin' the meanness in this world." Armetta shakes her head, wipes wetness off her cheek, then cradles my hands in her palms. "But there's goodness here, too. You can't never lose sight of that, hold on to it. It's the goodness that gets us through.” 5 likes
“It is founded on the worst instincts of mankind. At its best, it is intolerant and bigoted. At its worst, it is sadistic and brutal. Between these two poles it has its existence.” 4 likes
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