2 Holds on 2 Copies
508 pages ; 22 cm
"An epic love story that explores the American Dream between the monolith of Jim Crow, the inflexible world of the original Black upper class, and the violence of 1920s Chicago"--
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Avery Cunningham’s debut novel The Mayor of Maxwell Street gives a fascinating look into Prohibition-era Chicago. Penelope “Nelly” Sawyer, the daughter of a wealthy horse breeder from Kentucky, is making her debut in Black society in the summer of 1921. An aspiring journalist, Nelly learns about the elusive Mayor of Maxwell Street, a powerful man who controls Chicago’s underground crime scene. Aided by Jay Shorey, a biracial man passing as white, Nelly becomes entangled in a flurry of criminal activity that threatens her life and the lives of her family and friends.
Against a backdrop of speakeasies, lavish parties, and a multi-cultural night market, the novel explores the effects of Jim Crow laws, class differences in Chicago, and women’s struggles in the 1920s. Along with the narrative are rich details of Art Deco, Chicago historic landmarks, Roaring Twenties fashion, and expensive cars.
While some of the plot points are unrealistic, the overall story was compelling, and I was invested in the ending. I recommend this glamorous story to anyone who enjoys a love story, a riveting historical drama, and a brilliant exploration of Black society and perseverance in a memorable time in history.