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The Fight to Survive in Raging Floodwaters - an Editorial Review of "The River Rose"

Book Blurb:

The Mississippi Flood of 1927 unleashed a deluge that forever altered the lives of countless families. Among them, the Paynes, hardworking sharecroppers, and Governor Leroy Percy, a man of immense influence. As the waters surged, their paths converged in a battle against nature's fury and the perennial challenges of fatherhood. At the helm of the Payne family, Arthur "AD" Payne toils as both a sharecropper and muleskinner for Governor Percy, navigating a complex web of allegiances. Their sons, William and Orange 'O', grapple with their own reckonings amidst the rising waters. With over 700,000 displaced, and a million acres submerged beneath ten feet of unforgiving floodwaters, the struggle for survival becomes a beacon for resilience, revealing the true measure of a family's strength. In this meticulously researched and emotionally resonant novella, the specter of disaster looms large, casting shadows that reveal the unbreakable bonds of kinship and the unconquerable human spirit.

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Author Bio:

Savahn Jordan is a dedicated educator, prolific writer, and passionate historian with a touch of Southern charm. His literary journey began in the 6th grade with poetry, and since then, his love for education and history has flourished.

A proud graduate of Rust College, Mississippi's inaugural historically black college, Savahn earned his bachelor's degree in social science education with honors. His scholarly pursuits led to the publication of "How the Blues Ran the Hell Hounds Away: An Examination of Mississippi Bluesmen" in the esteemed University of Mississippi’s Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Journal's 2016 edition.

With a vocation rooted in teaching and a heart dedicated to storytelling, Savahn has penned thousands of words of fiction and non-fiction, mentored by distinguished scholars including Dr. Charles Ross of the University of Mississippi, Dr. A.J Stovall of Rust College, Dr. Marco Robinson of Prairie View A&M University, and Dr. Adam Gussow, also of the University of Mississippi.

Currently, Savahn is on the verge of publishing his debut book, The River Rose, and is delving into the world of freelancing. He's eager to embark on new and fulfilling projects that allow him to share stories that truly matter.

Thank you for joining this literary adventure, and he looks forward to connecting with you through the power of storytelling.

Editorial Review:

Spring 1927, the streams of the North, swollen from heavy rains and melting snow, began to pour into the Mississippi. It quickly became evident that a new chapter of floods would soon be written. The levees sagged and snapped and the uncontainable waters poured over the land bringing distress and destruction from Illinois down to Louisiana. This is the story of two men and their families attempting to survive the greatest natural disaster in Mississippi History.

"The River Rose" by Savahn Jordan is a novella that artfully intertwines the historical backdrop of the 1927 Mississippi Flood with the personal sagas of the Payne family and Governor Leroy Percy. This book offers a compelling exploration of human resilience and family dynamics under the immense pressure of natural disasters.

We enter on a scene of men chopping wood, whistling as they swing. The opening of the book is engaging, drawing readers into the world of the Paynes and the impending flood. The first line and paragraph are crafted to immediately pique interest and set the stage for the unfolding drama. Immediately we are given a timeline of the Great Flood of 1927.

There is almost a poetic feeling to the storytelling, and it draws you in, making you want to turn the pages and continue to learn more.

That morning, though, Orange started to hear Ma rustling around. The thud of Pop’s work boots hitting the floor felt like a mule kicking his stall, rattling him awake from what felt like the most relentless recurring dream.

Pop managed to navigate a world where he was treated no better than the mules by the men he worked for. His son never heard him complain, even though an ancient curtain was the only thing that separated the back room where O’s cot was from Ma and Pop’s bedroom, and a clean linen veil separated the front living room where Mama Ida slept and the kitchen from the rest of the house.

Usually Ma would be the first person O’s eyes saw. Some mornings her tone was soft and gentle as she laughed and said “O, get out of that bed and wash your face and hands.” Other mornings, such as this morning, her tone was rough and serious. “O, get up.”

Jordan successfully crafts a narrative that is both historically rich and deeply personal. The story of the Payne family, particularly through the eyes of Arthur "AD" Payne and his sons, William and Orange 'O', is entwined with the larger narrative of one of America’s greatest natural disasters. This blend of personal struggle with historical context makes for a storyline that is both educational and emotionally engaging.

Character development is a standout aspect of "The River Rose". AD Payne and his family are portrayed with depth and realism, allowing readers to connect with their struggles and triumphs. The nuanced portrayal of Governor Percy adds a layer of complexity, showcasing the various facets of human nature in the face of adversity.

Of course, I'm sure,” he says as he begins to cut the air with his hand the way Pop does, but he catches himself and slides his hands into his pockets, “Have you talked to Auntie Jean yet?”

Everyone around Greenville calls her Auntie Jean, but she was actually Rosie’s grandmother. Rosie’s birth mom was around so little O never learned her name, but she took more to whiskey and wild living than mothering. So even though Auntie has a host of other grandchildren from other children, she has taken Rosie up as her own since she was a baby.

Rosie was supposed to be telling Auntie Jean she wants to leave Trail Lake too, she wants to be a great writer like Ida B. Wells. But from her reaction, O knows that talkin’ has not happened today. However, she’s always been the one to reason, so she peeps in the window to assure that Mama Ida and Auntie Jean are still deep in conversation before she whispers.

The book is well-edited, with few noticeable errors in grammar or syntax that could pull you out of the story. The formatting is reader-friendly, facilitating an immersive reading experience. As a novella, it’s a quick read, but you don’t leave it feeling like you’ve missed anything. The attention to detail in editing enhances the overall quality of the novella.

The story maintains good continuity, with each chapter seamlessly flowing into the next. The historical context is skillfully woven into the narrative, ensuring that the storyline remains coherent and true to its setting. I also really enjoyed the chapter titles, which provide little teasers to what’s inside each chapter.

Without revealing spoilers, the ending of the novella is both satisfying and thought-provoking. It stays true to the tone of the book, offering a conclusion that is fitting for the characters and the journey they have undergone.

Mama, we’re going to the courthouse. There’s a flood coming,” Rosie said. Her tone sounded like she was relaying a business message, no warmth or familiarity betraying her tone.

Her mother frowned.

A flood? No, that ain’t gonna happen,” her mother denied, laughing along with the man she was speaking to earlier. They were laughing as if Rosie had told them the funniest thing in the world.

Mama, come with us. Please,” Rosie pleaded. She gripped her mother’s hand. It was softer than she remembered. That meant she’d been out of work for a while.

Her mother ripped her hand away.

Child, there ain’t gonna be no flood. Quit whining to me ‘bout one,” her mother scolded, shaking her hand free from Rosie’s and taking a deep sip from her cup.

Rosie straightened. Tears were prickling her eyes. She wasn’t going to plead more with her mother if she didn’t want to listen to reason.

She refused to feel any guilt about not trying to convince her mother more as she left the shot house.

"The River Rose" stands out for its unique blend of historical events and personal narratives. The setting of the 1927 Mississippi Flood is not commonly explored in literature, which adds to the book’s uniqueness.

Jordan’s writing is eloquent and vivid, effectively capturing the era and the emotional landscape of the characters. The descriptive passages are particularly noteworthy, bringing the scenes to life with rich detail and authenticity.

The story arc is well-constructed, with a clear progression from the introduction of characters and setting, through the rising action of the flood, to the climax and resolution. The arc is satisfying and well-paced, keeping the reader engaged throughout.

"The River Rose" by Savahn Jordan is a beautifully written novella that successfully combines historical context with a compelling family saga. Its strength lies in its character development, historical accuracy, and emotional depth. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction and stories about human resilience and family dynamics.


“The River Rose” by Savahn Jordan receives 4.5 stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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