Reviews

 

Reviews of Minetta Lane

 

Some reviewers loved the history…

Minetta Lane is the third book by A.
Robert Allen and I believe it is the best one yet.

—Pam

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It is based in New York City in 1906. It takes place in an area called the Bend but which Allen calls Minetta Lane. This area had a unique race-based code which was followed by all and which worked. It is also based on the true facts of the fire on the General Slocum, a ship which toured the harbor. He used the true names of many of the crew members and the passengers, although he invented many more. He looks into the Irish gang, the Whyos, and the plight of the young people who sold newspapers, the newsies.

Bodee Rivers has come to New York City after the death of his Mother to find his Grandmother and find some answers. His grandmother, Juba, welcomes him with open-arms, but does tell him he must find work. She gives him a list of places in the area to stay away from. Finding a job for a young black man isn’t easy as he soon finds out. He ends up doing the books for one of the places he is told to stay away from, although he only works until 4pm. However, one day, he runs into the Whyo gang and one member in particular, McFarland. The altercation was solved for all concerned except McFarland who had come from Chicago and wasn’t fitting in. McFarland vowed to get even with Bodee.

Bodee then goes to work on the harbor cruises. He gets a flashback to the past when he is on the first ship. He senses something is wrong or will go wrong. However, who should he tell? Who would believe a black man who senses the future? All Bodee can do is be ready for anything.

The book reads very smoothly and contains a lot of references to history. At the end, Allen tells the reader what is true and what isn’t which helps the reader a lot. The book is really good for just reading as well as for history it contains.

A. Robert Allen author of A Wave From Mama has written another winner of a book Minetta Lane.

—Rhonda

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The protagonist Bodee Rivers has visions and dreams that he doesn’t understand. This quality runs in his family. Bodee is also very tall and thin that when he turns sideways you may not see him. With all of this, he is kind and thoughtful and decides to find his maternal grandmother Juba. His mother has passed on and Bodee wants answers. Answers his mother would not give him. He only knows that his mother did not believe in the supernatural beliefs of his grandmother and would not discuss them with him.

The scene is in New York. We are talking the turn of the century, June of 1904. Bodee wants to play ball on the Colored team The Brooklyn Monitors. At this time he doesn’t have the upper body strength to make the team.

Bodees grandmother Juba is having a feeling Bodee is coming. She isn’t sure when but soon. Juba lives in an area of New York that is racially divided and there is a code to follow if you want to survive. Juba is a major influence in this area, no one goes against her. Juba convinces Bodee to stay with her so she can help him figure out his visions and maybe fatten him up a bit. Bodee is written as a completely human figure with all the frailties of insecurity and cowardice. He finds out he is not a quitter and is actually a hero of the Slocum disaster and Knickerbocker Steam Ship Company.

I’m not going to give away too much of the story because you really should read this and hope you enjoy it as much as I did. The storyline is truthful and honest. That is part of the reason I like A. Robert Allen’s writing. He uses fact and fiction and does not go too far from the truth and the story stays believable. I really enjoyed this ebook so much, thank you A. Robert Allen.

Captivating

—Linda

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I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. It is the third book in The Slavery and Beyond Series, but can be read without having knowledge of the previous two books.

In 1904, Minetta Lane is the name of a street in The Bend, a section of Manhattan, populated by both Blacks and Whites, with an understanding that each group stays within their own boundaries and keeps to themselves. We are introduced to a young black man, Bodee Rivers, who has come in search of the grandmother he doesn’t remember. Grandmother Juba was from a priestly Ashanti family, and as the story progresses, Bodee discovers he has inherited the ability to see the future through his dreams.

Additional individuals introduced at the beginning of the book are there to add “flavor” and an understanding of the neighborhood’s unsavory character, but the real story takes place in Part Three, during the General Slocum Steamboat Disaster. Bodee has already befriended several people, blacks and whites, and has acquired a job working for the steamboat company. He foresees “something upsetting,” but his first response has always been to “run away.” This time he decides to live up to his name, Bodua, which means “protector,” and stay to see the difficult premonition through until the end.

The book started out slowly, with so many assorted characters, that it took time for me to sort everyone out, but when the main story started, it was captivating. This fictional story, based on actual events (as explained by the author in the Historical Notes and Liberties section), certainly shows the research involved in the writing of this fact based novel

The Third is a Charm

Just when I thought the series could not get any better, along comes “Minetta Lane”.

—TM Smith

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This is the third book in A. Robert Allen’s Slavery and Beyond series. Like the first two novels in the series, “Failed Moments” and “A Wave from Mama”, “Minetta Lane” is an independent story with a racial theme.

The setting is 1904 in a dangerous area of New York City nicknamed The Bend. The Bend has an unusual race-based code where black residents are accepted, whites are rejected and Irish gangsters are respected. Bodee Rivers, Juba and Blood are the main characters who confront the racial differences in the Bend through their own personal connection and bond. Bodee is an interesting character who struggles with an internal power that tests his strength and endurance to do the right thing while struggling to be accepted by the whites in other neighborhoods.

A. Robert Allen has once again crafted a memorable addition to his fictional series that is full of historical facts. The characters are well shaped with intertwined story lines creating a smooth blend of fact and fiction. The various facets of the story are pulled together with a gripping climax to keep the reader engaged to the very end. The fast pace and short chapters kept me turning the pages while the other part of me did not want the book to end.

Each book in this series has found a special place in my heart. I can only hope the fourth book is in the works. A. Robert Allen is an author to follow for future publications.

A Great Take On History

Minetta Lane is the third book by A. Robert Allen and I believe it is the best one yet.

—P. Blevins

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It is based in New York City in 1906. It takes place in an area called the Bend but which Allen calls Minetta Lane. This area had a unique race-based code which was followed by all and which worked. It is also based on the true facts of the fire on the General Slocum, a ship which toured the harbor. He used the true names of many of the crew members and the passengers, although he invented many more. He looks into the Irish gang, the Whyos, and the plight of the young people who sold newspapers, the newsies.

Bodee Rivers has come to New York City after the death of his Mother to find his Grandmother and find some answers. His grandmother, Juba, welcomes him open-armed but does tell him he must find work. She gives him a list of places in the area to stay away from. Finding a job for a young black man isn’t easy as he soon finds out. He ends up going the books for one of the places he is told to stay away from, although he only works until 4pm. However, one day, he runs into the Whyo gang and one member in particular, McFarland. The altercation was solved for all concerned except McFarland who had come from Chicago and wasn’t fitting in. McFarland vowed to get even with Bodee.

Bodee then goes to work on the harbor cruises. He gets a flashback to the past when he is on the first ship. He senses something is wrong or will go wrong. However, who should he tell? Who would believe a black man who senses the future? All Bodee can do is be ready for anything.
The book reads very smoothly and contains a lot of references to history. At the end, Allen tells the reader what is true and what isn’t which helps the reader a lot. The book is really good for just reading as well as for history it contains.

A Change of Heart

This is an entertaining book, a very good read. It is well crafted and the descriptions of the characters and their neighbors are colorful and complete.

—JWH Teach23

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This work is an historical fiction account of diverse people living in lower New York City at the turn of the century. He describes the ethnic and sociological groups living in the area: the blacks of Minetta Lane, featuring the protagonist and his family; the Germans of Germantown; the Whyos, a white Irish street gang; and the “Newsies” a large population of young, orphaned boys who subsist by selling newspapers and live primarily on the streets. Each of these groups is unique, and we learn about them in exciting ways. The author places characters of importance in each different group, and the characters interact with each other in a variety of ways.

The plot centers on Bodee, a young black man who has just moved from Brooklyn to lower Manhattan, where he lives with his grandmother. Bodee has a unique tatent which complicates his life. One huge complication arises with all the characters aboard a burning steamship. This
part of the book is intense, and I sped through the pages hoping for a resolution. It is during and after this conflagration that we see Bodee has changed his attitude, and has become the man he and his relatives always wanted him to be. The memory of the fire will linger with me, as will many other scenes in the novel. The minor incident between Bodee and the Whyo, and the resultant treatment of the gang member by the gang, stood out as an extreme need to condone violence to enforce a code of behavior.

I would be a “spoiler” if I kept listing parts of this book that impressed me. I finished it in two days, because it was so absorbing. I plan to read the author’s two other books.

Another Home Run for Author A. Robert Allen

In June of 1904, Minetta Lane was the roughest street of the dangerous area of New York City known as The Bend.

—Marion Marchetto

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It is to this street that twenty-year-old Bodee Rivers comes to find his Grandma Juba after his mother dies. Since he was two years old, Bodee’s mother was estranged from Grandma Juba and thus Bodee feels a bit like a stranger as he navigates the toughs, both Irish and Colored, on his initial approach. He is quickly informed that as Juba’s grandson he is protected thanks to her Voudou ways and the fear she has instilled in the various gangs. Conversations with his grandma help him to discover that his disjointed dreams are prophetic; in this respect he is like Grandma Juba who recognized the gift in him even during his infancy.

After several attempts at finding work, Bodee becomes a porter for the Knickerbocker Steamship Company and is set to work on their flagship the S. S. Grand Republic. After only a short time on the job, he is loaned for the to the S.S. General Slocum which will be hosting a group of over one thousand German immigrant families on a church outing. Bodee soon realizes that all of his dreams and visions have led him to this place and the weight of impending disaster presses heavily on him. Will the skinny youth who usually runs from confrontation be strong enough to stand up to fate or will he choose to save himself? Will he call upon the strength of his ancestors that courses through his veins and help others in need? A secondary story of Edward Murphy Junior, the abandoned child turned Newsie, gives a glimpse of another facet of life during this period. His friendship with Two-Tooth Tommy and Mrs. Gerda Heinrich is endearing.

Minetta Lane is the third volume in A. Robert Allen’s “Slavery and Beyond” series; to this reader it is by far his best work to date. The story is fast-paced and although chock full of historical facts and scenarios it is far from being a textbook. Author Allen has set his engaging and multi-layered characters against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century New York City and one of the city’s most horrific disasters.

This reviewer gives Minetta Lane a solid five stars and looks forward to more from this exceptional author.

A Must Read

Minetta Lane is an excellent example of the novel as a portal into history.

—Bonnye Reed Fry

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A. Robert Allen does a wonderful job of bringing back to us the life, manners and mores of a vital neighborhood in New York City, where Minetta Lane met Minetta Street. In the spring of 1904, black was white and white was black in the Minettas. There were entrenched procedures and rules which every visitor to the Bend was subject to, whether knowingly or not, and Bodee Rivers, a very untried young black man, had as much of a problem with living with/enforcing those rules as anyone else ever did.

This is an exceptional novel. How can the grandson of a slave affect and change the profile of a community? A grandson without the fire in his belly of his people still touching the life line of slavery? How can he find rewarding work and a loving relationship and contribute to the growth of his neighborhood and community without that ability to focus totally on achieving equal recognition?

Bodee Rivers finds a way to straddle that line and bring his simple sense of humanity to bear on his neighborhood and his city. The burning June 15, 1905 of the excursion boat the General Slocum was the most deadly river disaster in the history of the US. Of the thirteen hundred passengers aboard one thousand and thirty died in the blaze. Bodee Rivers rescued many of those survivors. It turns out bravery and the recognition of a shared humanity doesn’t really have a color.

Minetta Lane is the third in a series, each stand alone, called Slavery and Beyond. All are exceptional. Failed Moments and A Wave From Mama are novels we can all enjoy and bring away a link to understanding one another.

A Trip Down Minetta Lane is a Memorable Experience

Minetta Lane, the third book in A. Robert Allen’s Slavery and Beyond series, has been described as “historical fiction for people interested in racial themes, which will transport them to another time and place.”

—Jane Nixon White

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To me, that description is pablum to the real meat of his story, which takes place in downtown New York in 1904, in an area rich with not just racially different characters, but mixtures of nationalities, as they both cling to their special neighborhoods, but also inadvertently cross paths, for good and ill experiences.

Allen is adept at the use of dialect, and uses it in surprisingly authentic ways, as he switches from Irish, to German, to Black voices. Readers will become emotionally involved with his characters, who seem real enough to all be historical people, even the fictional ones. I was grateful to Allen that he provided an afterward at the end to sort out the people, places, and events into actual and fictional aspects.

I highly recommend Minetta Lane as a book that will stick with me, for teaching me about a period of history I knew little about, and places, events, and people that helped make our country who we are, for good and for ill, but mostly for good.

Others loved the thought-provoking themes…

A Memorable Addition to His Fictional Series

—Terry S

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Just when I thought the series could not get any better, along comes “Minetta Lane”. This is the third book in A. Robert Allen’s Slavery and Beyond series. Like the first two novels in the series, “Failed Moments” and “A Wave from Mama”, “Minetta Lane” is an independent story with a racial theme.

The setting is 1904 in a dangerous area of New York City nicknamed The Bend. The Bend has an unusual race-based code where black residents are accepted, whites are rejected and Irish gangsters are respected. Bodee Rivers, Juba and Blood are the main characters who confront the racial differences in the Bend through their own personal connection and bond. Bodee is an interesting character who struggles with an internal power that tests his strength and endurance to do the right thing while struggling to be accepted by the whites in other neighborhoods.

A. Robert Allen has once again crafted a memorable addition to his fictional series that is full of historical facts. The characters are well shaped with intertwined story lines creating a smooth blend of fact and fiction. The various facets of the story are pulled together with a gripping climax to keep the reader engaged to the very end. The fast pace and short chapters kept me turning the pages while the other part of me did not want the book to end.

Each book in this series has found a special place in my heart. I can only hope the fourth book is in the works. A. Robert Allen is an author to follow for future publications.

Well Researched and Written

—Brenda

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This was the third book in the “Slavery and Beyond” series by Allen. I have read all of them and am always amazed at how well Allen mixes historical facts with his fictional characters. This book tells the story of Bodee, a young man with slight psychic abilities who helps to save many from the real-life fire and wreckage of the steamship SS Gen. Slocum in the East River. His heroic actions are based on those of an actual crew member, but Allen makes his character come alive well before the fire scenes when telling you pieces of Bodee’s life in New York on Minetta Lane, a prominent black neighborhood at the time. These books are well researched and written. I look forward to the next one.

I loved all the historic details in this story. The steamships were so fascinating. It was eye-opening to see what New York was like for minorities and immigrants in 1904. It took me a while to like the characters in the book, but I really liked them after their stories got going along. I had to keep reading to find out what would happen to them!

I received a free copy of this book from the author. Thanks!

Just Love the People on the Pages

—Kristi

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I won’t reveal in my review the center of suspense, hence the non-fiction part of this book. But I will say I just love the people on the pages, the standout Bodee Rivers, an insecure grandson of a slave, a baseball-lovin’ young man who runs like the wind and is most notably a remarkable clairvoyant. The story begins when Bodee resumes residing with his grandmother on tough Minetta Lane in racially divided New York, 1904, and continues on with Bodee’s ‘daydreaming’ quest to find strength and answers among the many questions in his mind, striving to choose a path of bravery over fear.

Among history is heroism. And life through decades thankfully increases compassion and equality. Faith always holds our hands in guidance. Our admiration for and our ability to empower these virtues is colorblind — it is what we witness and remember most during catastrophes: that we are all one, just humans helping humans. And when we move on from these moments in history, these moments in time, we take from them that feeling at that moment in time when we were all just helpless but hopeful humans, all deserved of freedom and safety, a helper helping the fallen, one soul saving another. We take that strong feeling of unity and we hope for it in our everyday existence. It is what energizes the soul of compassion and goodness. May the magic of embracing all that is good continue to grow. And may A. Robert Allen continue to write yearly about beautiful people.

Courage to Believe

The author is brilliant and how he creates the distinction between black and white in the end of the 1800’s beginning of 1900 Manhattan, drawing the line between the races and the powerful Irish gang that frightens and controls the town. Bodee, having been estranged from his grandmother for 20 years finds his way to her against his now deceased mother’s years of insisting he stay far away from her.

—Gail Eichinger

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Bodee starts to learn about his family history; it is tragic, strong, raw and enlightening. The author brilliantly explores Juba, his grandmother and her powers which have gained her respect on all sides of the racial lines in the community on and around Minetta Lane. Even the fearless Irish gang respects her.

The author hauntingly explores Bodee beginning to realize that he to shares some of his grandmother’s special dream and intuitive powers. The author is amazing in how he brings forth the struggle Bodee is having to try to understand and grasp what his dreams mean and the power they allow him to have. Anyone who has had that 6th Sense and couldn’t understand it’s value and didn’t quite know what to do with it – this book is for you. The author is also quite skilled in creating fascinating parallel stories that in time all become part of Bodee’s dream visions. This frightens and challenges him as he realized the truth of his dreams and the strength and courage he must have to make a difference in the outcomes. His struggle is fierce. The ending frightening and unsettling as it all comes together in a harmony that came at a great price of sacrifice, truth and faith.

Beautiful Courage

Author A. Robert Allen has this amazing writing vision and does a marvelous job gathering historical facts and then weaving brave, compassionate hearts, a little witty humor and genuineness, and some dark realities into his historical fiction novels.

—Kristi Vitale

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I have been a part of Mr. Allen’s writing journey in reading and reviewing his work, and it seems every year I look forward to what he publishes; this is his third volume in the Slavery and Beyond series.

I won’t reveal in my review the center of suspense, hence the non-fiction part of this book. But I will say I just love the people on the pages, the standout Bodee Rivers, an insecure grandson of a slave, a baseball-lovin’ young man who runs like the wind and is most notably a remarkable clairvoyant. The story begins when Bodee resumes residing with his grandmother on tough Minetta Lane in racially divided New York, 1904, and continues on with Bodee’s ‘daydreaming’ quest to find strength and answers among the many questions in his mind, striving to choose a path of bravery over fear.

Among history is heroism. And life through decades thankfully increases compassion and equality. Faith always holds our hands in guidance. Our admiration for and our ability to empower these virtues is colorblind — it is what we witness and remember most during catastrophes: that we are all one, just humans helping humans. And when we move on from these moments in history, these moments in time, we take from them that feeling at that moment in time when we were all just helpless but hopeful humans, all deserved of freedom and safety, a helper helping the fallen, one soul saving another. We take that strong feeling of unity and we hope for it in our everyday existence. It is what energizes the soul of compassion and goodness. May the magic of embracing all that is good continue to grow. And may A. Robert Allen continue to write yearly about beautiful people.

Another Five Star Read by A. Robert Allen

Minetta Lane by A. Robert Allen, the third book in the Slavery and Beyond series had me captivated from the first page! Mr. Allen has done it again, like a fine tapestry he’s written another fictional novel loaded with historical facts.

—Heidi

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In 1904, Minetta Lane was a racially divided, dangerous area in Brooklyn, N.Y. Overrun by Black and Irish gangs no one was safe walking down the street unless they had protection from one of the gangs. The book begins with a young man Bodee Rivers looking for his estranged grandmother Juba. Upon learning that Bodee is the grandson of Juba, Bodee is safe to walk through “The Bend” but not before angering one of the Irish gang members. This will come back to haunt him later. He is also introduced to his Uncle Marcus, a.k.a. Blood. Bodee soon realizes that his grandmother and uncle seem to wield a lot of power in the neighborhood. Juba explains how the people in the neighborhood fear her and her “voodoo” practices. Grandma Juba teaches Bodee to use his visons to predict and prevent dangerous events.

Meanwhile there are a large group of German immigrants who belong to St. Marks Church who are preparing for their summer picnic and a cruise aboard the General Slocum, owned by the Knickerbocker Steamship Company. One of the picnic organizers befriends Bodee and the two separate tales begin to weave together. Just like Mr. Allen’s two previous books, “Failed Moments” and “A Wave From Mama” the ending of the book leaves you unable to put the book down. The anticipation of what would happen next had me up till the wee hours of the morning. You will be left feeling a range of emotions. What seems like two separate stories effortlessly blend together.

I love how Mr. Allen explains at the very end of the book, who and what was real and what was fictional. Also Mr. Allen explains where the areas in the novel are nowadays. Coming from Long Island, N.Y. I love to learn about the history of areas in New York that I am familiar with today. I have a passion for historical fiction, Mr. Allen has a talent for mixing fact with fiction. I see a long, successful writing career ahead for this very talented author. I will anxiously await his next work. This easily is a five star read!!!

Such an Interesting Read!

This is the third book in the authors Slavery and Beyond series. I have read all three and it was interesting to go through the progression of the different time periods, but each of the books is also an independent read.

—Alison DD

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I love how he chooses, interesting main characters, and how he quite often gives them a sense of innocence, yet also always strength.

Set in1904 New York City, we follow Bodee Rivers as he goes to a very racial and volatile area of NYC called the Bend, his grandmother Juba,lives on Minetta Lane and if you are not connected to the area, the chances are you would be robbed and beaten up. This area is a hot spot for both Black and Irish gangs. Bodee’s Grandmother, because of what people fear she can do is is protected as are those who are close to her.

We follow Bodee as he tries to find a job and new life for himself and to come to terms with the tension that his mother had with his grandmother. Bodee himself has a special gift that he has been trying to come to terms with and with his grandmothers help he is able to realize its value. This comes to play in a major part of the story.

There are a lot of great characters in this book and it is a story that gives us a historical view of what was going on in parts of NYC during that time period. A very good read. I have enjoyed each one of the authors books and have learned a lot from the history portrayed in each one.
I would like to thank the author for an ARC of his book.