While fiction about the 1950s Civil Rights era is far from rare, few capture the period and struggles from the perspective of a white child.
A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten back country of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like the Blind Man tells the story of a white youth cast aside in the segregated South of the 1950s, and the forces he must overcome to restore order to his world.
Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand, a fact that lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky. Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention the local Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers. Soon, however, he finds his worldviews changing, particularly when it comes to matters of race, religion and the true cause of his father’s death.