Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
How far would a son go to belong? And how far would a father go to protect him?

With his curly black hair and his wicked grin, everyone swoons and thinks of Frank Sinatra when Navy musician Jackson Lewis takes the stage. It's World War II, and while stationed in St. John's, Newfoundland, Jack meets the well-heeled, romantic Vivian Clift, a local girl who has never stepped off the Rock and is desperate to see the world. They marry against Vivian's family's wishes--hard to say what it is, but there's something about Jack that they just don't like--and as the war draws to a close, the new couple travels to Windsor to meet Jack's family.

But when Vivian meets Jack's mother and brother, everything she thought she knew about her new husband gets called into question. They don't live in the dream home that Jack depicted, they all look different from one another--and different from anyone Vivian has ever seen--and after weeks of waiting to meet Jack's father, William Henry, he never materializes. 

Steeped in jazz and big-band music, spanning pre- and post-war Windsor-Detroit, St. John's, Newfoundland, and 1950s Toronto, this is an arresting, heartwrenching novel about fathers and sons, love and sacrifice, race relations and a time in our history when the world was on the cusp of momentous change.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, 2013.
ISBN: 9780385677660


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Feb 02, 2018

A fast fun read with interesting ideas that stick in your heard for a long time.
Good twist at the end (but don't read ahead because it won't make sense unless you've read the rest of the book!)

Nov 08, 2015

This novel is both entertaining and compelling. It explores the rich complexities of racism through the story of a mixed race child growing up in Windsor, out to Newfoundland during the war, then back to Toronto and Windsor. Characters are richly developed, filled with conflicted misgivings over racial identity. The tension in the story builds like an elastic pulled tighter and tighter, right to the very last line. A great read.

Jan 28, 2015

I really did not enjoy this book. My biggest issue with it was that the characters were “thinly” developed and didn’t seem like believable people.

inthestacks Feb 25, 2014

Jack Lewis, a young Navy musician stationed in Newfoundland at the end of the Second World War, meets and marries Vivian, a naïve, local girl. They travel to Windsor, Ontario, where Vivian discovers, in meeting Jack’s family, that he is black but has been passing for white since an early age. Vivian struggles to accept this and to find acceptance with Jack’s family. Too many plot holes and some awkwardly-written passages make for a weak story overall. Hard to believe this was long-listed for the 2013 Giller Prize.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at WPL

To Top