Faith, Trust and Poison: White Nights, Black Paradise

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Today I bring you another blog tour with Rich in Variety Tours. This time it’s a full length novel about the People’s Temple and White Night. This book is a historical take through a feminine perspective, and I truly can’t wait to share it with you!

About the Book

Author: Sikivu Hutchinson
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 16, 2015
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, LGBT+
Page Number: 325

In 1978, Peoples Temple, a Black multiracial church once at the forefront of progressive San Francisco politics, self-destructed in a Guyana jungle settlement named after its leader, the Reverend Jim Jones. Fatally bonded by fear of racist annihilation, the community’s greatest symbol of crisis was the White Night; a rehearsal of revolutionary mass suicide that eventually led to the deaths of over 900 church members of all ages, genders and sexual orientations. White Nights, Black Paradise focuses on three fictional black women characters who were part of the Peoples Temple movement but took radically different paths to Jonestown: Hy, a drifter and a spiritual seeker, her sister Taryn, an atheist with an inside line on the church’s money trail and Ida Lassiter, an activist whose watchdog journalism exposes the rot of corruption, sexual abuse, racism and violence in the church, fueling its exodus to Guyana. White Nights, Black Paradise is a riveting story of complicity and resistance; loyalty and betrayal; black struggle and black sacrifice. It locates Peoples Temple and Jonestown in the shadow of the civil rights movement, Black Power, Second Wave feminism and the Great Migration. Recapturing black women’s voices, White Nights, Black Paradise explores their elusive quest for social justice, home and utopia. In so doing, the novel provides a complex window onto the epic flameout of a movement that was not only an indictment of religious faith but of American democracy.

Purchase the book here:

Amazon // Author Website


Okay, I’ll readily admit that this is not usually my type of book. While I’ve read a few historical fiction books, I don’t think I’ve ever read any LGBTQ+ ones before. Which, quite frankly, is a bit depressing. I’ve also never heard of the People’s Temple and Jonestown. So the fact that this book really engaged me is a testament to how well written it was. Admittedly, it was a little hard to follow at points because of the switching points of view, places, and time periods. There were times when I couldn’t place something in the timeline, especially in the beginning, but I got used to it as the book progressed. It was very interesting to read from a mostly female persective, since there were so many different people who were all affected by the Temple in some way. I actually felt most intrigued by Mother Mabelean because she seemed like a very compassionate person but had so much going on behind the scenes. Hy and Taryn were both independent in their own ways, and it was interesting seeing the switch in their perspectives of the Temple. Ida was also an engaging character, but she kind of faded into a sort of outside influence halfway through. The book did feel a bit dense at times, but it truly is a rewarding and enlightening read. It gets a 9 out of 10 from me!

About the Author


Sikivu Hutchinson is the author of Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles, Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars, Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels and the novelWhite Nights, Black Paradise.  She is a contributing editor for The Feminist Wire and founder of the Women’s Leadership Project, a feminist humanist high school mentoring program based in South L.A. She has also written and directed a short film based on White Nights, Black Paradise, which is due in Fall 2016.
Connect with the author!

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