My alternate recommendation is Freshwater Road, by actress Denise Nicholas (yes, she of "Room 222," "In the Heat of the Night (TV version)," "Uptown Saturday Night," and even "Blacula" hahaha). She is as beautiful in person as she is on screen; at age 60 she is even more radiant. Yeah, her eyes really are green--I thought it was an optical illusion.
The novel won a Hurston/Wright Award for fiction earlier this month. Originally published by Agate Books, it is a lyrical yet often vivid meditation on African American "Freedom Riders" in the south in the early 1960s. I say meditation because it doesn't neatly fit in historical fiction genre; rather, it's an account of inner spiritual conflicts surrounding the major characters and events in their lives, much like Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. On the historical tip, however, I am happy that someone finally illustrated the contribution of black Freedom Riders coming "home," rather than the usual tale of idealistic young white kids rolling down to rescue poor helpless negroes from the Klan. Read this rather than sit in line to buy your kids a Playstation 3.