Music is the undercurrent of Hush Now, Don’t Explain by Dennis Must. Honor begins narrating her story as a ten-year-old in 1944 running away from her orphanage home in search of her mother. Her only clue is a Bible inscribed with the name and address of Alsada Sara Jones. Living with Miss Alsada is her son Billy. Miss Alsada reveals as little information about Honor’s mother as she does about Billy’s father. Events in the story are filled with a child’s view of life. Honor has a knack for taking things in, experiencing them deeply and understanding their broader meaning. Her caring for others permeates her story as she witnesses a cross burning, the humiliating treatment of an elderly black friend, and other racial, social and cultural issues of the times.
“His music was awaking now…like one of those trains alongside that house whose inhabitants had risen out of their soiled beds, sprung open their pitch-black windows, and were breathing in the bracing morning air-the melody of DeForest Road that Billy had somehow found, that had come to him through this mysterious visitor with the black and white brogues, the ham-hock hands, and the laugh of a minister of joy.”
Must does a good job of bringing together many aspects of the music culture of the time and weaving them into views of racial disparity, women’s lack of rights and socioeconomic issues. His characters are believable and his story compelling.
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