DNF: The Fog Machine by Susan Follett (Belinda’s review)

the fog machineThe Fog Machine
written by Susan Follett
published by Lucky Sky Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Where I stopped reading: page 150

Why I stopped reading: Lucky Sky Press has big plans for this book. They’ve put together reading guides and discussion questions for book groups and educators. I hope they get the reaction they want.

I respect that Follett researched this project so carefully. I admire that she conducted careful interviews. I’m inspired by the passion she put into this project.

For me, though, the story pace was agonizingly slow. Too much time passes with nothing significant taking place. I also wasn’t a huge fan of Follett’s writing style. I’d love to give you an example but the rear cover warns, “Advance Uncorrected Proofs – Please do not quote for publication without checking against the finished book.” I’m not sure why publishers send out deeply flawed books and expect good reviews.

So let’s just say hypothetically that using a birthing cat analogy is never a good idea.

About the book – from Amazon: An exploration of prejudice and what enables and disables change, set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1964, from the perspectives of a 12-year-old white girl, a young black woman who has left Mississippi for Chicago, and a Freedom Summer volunteer from New York City. As lives collide, each questions what freedom means and the price they’ll pay to have it. ******* To Joan Barnes, twelve years old in the summer of 1964, freedom is her birthright. As for Mississippi’s Negroes, like C.J., who works for Joan’s family until she leaves for Chicago, freedom was settled by the Civil War, wasn’t it? Negroes are no longer slaves. As the child of upper-middle-class Yankee Catholics living in predominantly Baptist Mississippi, where family roots are as deep as those of the towering loblolly pines, Joan simply wants to belong. This need repeatedly puts her at odds with what she knows to be right. And it will take her years to understand that freedom means choices. To C.J. Evans, born to a life of cleaning white folks’ houses, freedom is the size of a human heart, never bigger or smaller. It comes from within and can’t be given or taken away. And, as her waiting-on-heaven Baptist preacher and white-controlled schools have taught her, freedom takes a back seat to staying safe—whether she’s working as a maid in her Jim Crow Mississippi or as a live-in domestic in Chicago, where the rules are far more subtle. To Zach Bernstein, Jewish University of Chicago law student, freedom is an ever-expanding circle, like a balloon that can be blown up bigger and bigger without bursting. It’s in the songs the summer volunteers sing to ward off the fear that they, too, will end up like James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, missing since June 21 and presumed dead. It’s in Zach’s faith and commitment to tzedakah—justice and righteousness. It’s why he has come to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to teach at the Meridian Freedom School.




  1. I think that it’s great that you included a DNF in your review. Some bloggers would just not post about it. You maintained your integrity and followed the rules. I look forward to reading more of your reviews.