Book Nook: Truevine - Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest, by Beth Macy
Beth Macy was scrolling through her Facebook feed when she saw the photo. It was a picture that had been taken nearly a century ago, a photograph of two brothers. Macy recognized them. They were the Muse Brothers, George and Willie. Over a century ago the brothers had been taken away from their home and family and then were made to perform as freaks in a circus sideshow.
Macy had first become aware of the bizarre tale of the Muses when she had been a newspaper reporter in Roanoke, Virginia. She had written about them at the time but she always knew that there was much more to know and find out about what had actually happened to them. She decided that their story would become the focus of her latest book, "Truevine - Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: a True Story of the Jim Crow South."
The brothers had been mere boys laboring in a sharecropper's tobacco field when they were taken away. They had attracted the attention of a "freak hunter" because both boys had a rare skin pigmentation caused by albinism. After that they became virtual chattel, enslaved by one circus after another and forced to perform without being paid. They had been told that their mother was dead. This wasn't true.
Their mother never stopped looking for her missing sons. This is an incredible story. The younger brother, Willie, lived to be over 100 years old. Beth Macy pulled together as many missing pieces of their story as she could assemble. Macy, who grew up in Urbana, Ohio knows a big story when she finds it. That Facebook post reminded her of that big story that had gotten away from her once upon a time. Not this time. Macy nails it. This is one of my favorite works of non-fiction of 2016.
The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by six local library systems in southwest Ohio: the Greene County Public Library, Washington-Centerville Public Library, MidPointe Library System, Clark County Public Library, Dayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.