New Novel Bridges Racial Divide During 60’s Southern Segregation
When addiction hit the homes of Jude Armstrong and Roosevelt Harris, it did not discriminate. The young boys were from different backgrounds, different neighborhoods and different races but they shared an experience–living in a segregated country in the 1960s, in families broken by substance abuse.
Loosely based on his own experiences, the new novel by Michael A. Pyle, White Sugar, Brown Sugar, is set on the idyllic Inland Waterway of Daytona Beach, Florida in the 1960s, where the reality was that Blacks lived on the other side of the tracks from whites. While some crossed the river to work for the whites, they had to cross to their side of the river before dark. The nostalgia-rich novel highlights a simpler era fraught with unsuspecting demons and teenage allure, but unveils a road-less-traveled by most, transcending the decades and turning a blind eye to adversity and injustice in order to establish true friendship, hope, strength, and inspiration.
In White Sugar, Brown Sugar, the tranquility of Jude Armstrong’s safe, upper middle-class white world ends when his alcoholic mother tosses his father out of their home and debauchery replaces discipline under their roof. Meanwhile, Roosevelt Harris’s life has never been tranquil. Raised by his grandparents, he has never known his father. His heroin-addicted mother disappears for weeks at a time, and is often incarcerated. Neither boy understands the racial issues of the time, but both know all too well the misery and difficulties that arise from abuse of alcohol and drugs. The duo swears they will never end up like their addictive-parents, yet they both follow the same path.
The novel is thrilling’ and voyeuristic for today’s young adult reader who must learn about the segregated South through movies like Jackie Robinson and books like Tom Sawyer. Meanwhile, it will ignite a roller coaster of sentiment for those whose lives are reflected in the story while also entertaining and inspiring the reader.
“I was born and raised in the area that is the setting of White Sugar, Brown Sugar, and experienced the racial issues of the time, as a naïve, middle class, white boy,” says Pyle. “My unfortunate experiences taught me a fortunate lesson; there is no race, culture, or economic stature that prevents addiction-but hope bridges all demographics, and everyone deserves a second chance. My hope is that this story educates, entertains and inspires readers of all ages.”
Michael A. Pyle began writing White Sugar, Brown Sugar in the 1970s wishing to describe racial and drug abuse experiences in Daytona Beach, Florida. He continued writing while earning his Bachelor’s in English at the University of Florida, and studying creative writing. In addition to writing, Pyle has been an attorney in Daytona Beach since 1983.