Reviews of Living in the Middle


Some reviewers loved the thought-provoking themes

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A perfectly told story of the insecurities and lonesomeness of not fitting in anywhere and fitting in everywhere while living a bi-racial life in the early 1900’s. It was full of drama and pleasure, fears and triumphs, White privilege and despair; which are fine tuned writing skills that I have come to notice as a unique writing style for this author. He gives you a complete understanding of all characters temperaments and personalities so that when they feel, you feel. When they hurt or have anger, you can relate. You may think that when you have read one book about racial hate and pride or slavery you have read them all, but not with this author. He always brings a new twist to an old theme that is like a breath of fresh air.

A Story of Not Fitting InDosha Beard

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What can you say about an author who takes a snapshot in history and transforms it into an informative, captivating novel? A. Robert Allen is that author. His latest book focuses on race relations in the early 20th century in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that are rarely mentioned or given little awareness.

The heart of “Living in the Middle” centers on biracial identity issues and racial differences. Jimmy Montgomery is the main character in the story and he strikes every emotional chord from the first chapter to the last. He struggles with identifying to whites versus blacks based on the color of his skin while questioning where he truly belongs. Lies from Jimmy’s past cause him to confront various situations in an attempt to be accepted in society rather than rejected.

A. Robert Allen writes a powerful novel blending both fictional and non-fictional characters in the story with many untold historical facts from the past. The seamless transition between fact and fiction speaks to the author’s writing style and talent to craft a well-developed historical fiction novel leaving the reader pondering over the outcome way beyond the end. He is an author I will continue to keep on my radar for future great works. This is one of his “must reads.”

A Must ReadTerry Smith

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In this book, the author introduces Jimmy Montgomery who must overcome adversity and find his place in life. He doesn’t fit neatly into one box or another and must navigate some difficult situations to find happiness and success. While the book is centered around uncomfortable scenes of racism and classism there is a lesson of staying true to yourself and pushing forward in the face of hardship. Jimmy struggles with some character traits that can get him into trouble but he eventually learns how to reign those in without changing who he is in the process. While not a story of triumph, there is both hope and progress at the end. Beyond Jimmy’s story, the book also touches on social norms/expectations, the influence of media in a politically charged environment, fear-mongering, and the need to look beyond labels. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.


Another Great Story!Beth Knowles

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Robert Allen has written a heart-wrenching story about the Greenwood riots that occurred in 1921, drawing the reader into the lives and difficulties of his great characters brilliantly, helping the reader to put faces to the events that unfold. I loved this book, the story was powerful and devastating at the same time. Man’s inhumanity to his fellow man raises its ugly head yet again. Will it ever stop?

Heart-Wrenching StoryPenny Cunningham

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Living in the Middle was a very gritty, realistic tale of a man trying to exist in a world that suddenly changed. Finding out that his biological mother was a woman of color, rather than the woman he called mother shakes his world to the very foundations. Rejected by the only “mother” he knew, yet accepted at least partially into the world he didn’t know — the world of Black men and women — he struggles to reclaim his identity and to learn how to survive in a world without the privileges that he was accustomed to as a white male.  A. Robert Allen does a great job capturing the spirit of the age and the unfortunate prejudice that it contained. Historically accurate, this work of fiction interweaves fact with the story that unfolds.

Gritty, Realistic Tale—Debra Miller

Others loved the history

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Living in the Middle is the fourth book in A. Robert Allen’s Slavery and Beyond Series. As I’ve read these books, Allen has become one of my go-to authors. I am a fan of historic fiction; I was a history major, concentrating on American Black History, and have found that good historical fiction brings the events and characters from earlier times to life. Good historical fiction helps the reader better understand the human side of historic events.

Allen does a thorough job of researching the historical background for each of his novels. I am a hard judge of such fiction and do my own research to be sure events have not been distorted or embellished beyond plausibility. Allen has never disappointed. My other requirement for good historical fiction is that the invested characters must be authentic and sympathetic – I want to care about them and what happens to them. Again, Allen always come through.

The Tulsa riot happened. It was at least as bad as Allen portrays it in this book, and the KKK influence cannot be overstated. The causes and events leading up to the slaughter are documented elsewhere; in Allen’s hands, the reader is there to smell the smoke and mourn the dead.

The reader also wrestles with the main character, Jimmy, to figure out what Black and White mean, and if, and how, he is a different person once he knows his birth mother was a Black woman.

Living in the Middle should be required reading for all Americans. It provides a dramatic view of an event that is little known outside of college history classrooms. As with Allen’s previous novels, there is a gripping personal drama to keep the narrative moving while the reader learns an important piece of history.

In Allen’s hands, the reader is there to smell the smoke and mourn the dead.Priscilla Herrington

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Mr. Allen creatively weaves historical events from the early 1900’s into his story of Jimmy Montgomery who was born to a Black woman and a White man who fell in love during post-reconstruction in the south. Their mixed race son would grow up passing as a white boy only to learn of his identity when an unfortunate life event occurs when Jimmy turns 18. The chronicles of his self searching and choices that would lay the path for his future ensues during his move to Oklahoma with the reunification of his birth mother. The events following Jimmy’s discovery are filled with memorable characters, tender moments, chronicled atrocities and race riots that occurred in the US south during this time-frame, in Greenwood, Oklahoma – the historic freedom colony aka Black Wall Street. Historical figures Booker T. Washington and WEB De Bois are woven into the lives of the Black township of Greenwood describing the race challenges Blacks would face during the 1900’s fight for equality and the end to white supremacy. Once I began reading I could not put this book down. Picturing the characters in this book was very easy given Mr. Allen’s descriptive portrayals and accounts of the characters and town. Truly a pleasant read that was engaging, thought provoking and very enjoyable!

Chronicles of Self-Searching and ChoicesKonami Chisolm

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This was another great book in the Slavery and Beyond series. This story tells of mixed race Jimmy who was raised as a wealthy white young man, but decided to live as his true self as a black man instead of straddling the two worlds. He moves from NYC to Tulsa and sees the hatred and discrimination that exists in the south first hand. The story leads up to the riot that took so many human lives when the whites used an accused rape to destroy the area that the black families lived in. Mr. Allen does a great job with two things in his books, he builds memorable characters, and he uses historical events to fictionalize entertaining and educational stories. I’ve learned a lot about black history reading these last four stories in this series. Great job.

An Entertaining and Educational StoryBrenda Browning

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I had the privilege of being asked to read an early copy of this to review. At first I was apprehensive, thinking I’m not exactly a historical expert on race. I was immediately drawn into the main character. He was written in a way to make me actually feel his inner battle. I enjoy books that transform me into the story and make me feel vested, and this book definitely fulfilled that for sure…I’ll be quite honest….. before this book, I had no idea of this story in our history….. eye opening to say the least….

Eye-opening!Dan Salisbury

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I have enjoyed all his books. He asked me to read this book in advance to publication. I am pleased to say this is another great read in the Slavery and Beyond series. As a British woman I know very little about black history and the more I read of this book I realized that this was not a book of total fiction. I’m ashamed to say, I had never heard of the Tulsa race riot. Most of the main characters are fictitious but the historical figures are there too.

We follow the life of Jimmy Montgomery. Who, out of the blue, discovers that his mother is black. Having been raised as a white boy, this comes as a huge shock. What follows his him trying to decide whether he is black or white. He goes in search of the mother he never knew and in doing so his life becomes tumultuous.

Everyone should read this book. It really opened my eyes to the abhorrent behaviour the whites wrought on the blacks.

Well Done. Another amazing read.

This Author Never Lets Me DownSharon Benham