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Praise


Latest Reviews

“This is a wonderful book and one all teachers and librarians should introduce to young people of all races. There's never been a more important (and crucial) time to educate the young to their history and The FOG MACHINE does a great job of this.”
—KAREN BRANAN, Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Family Tree: A Lynching in Georgia, a Legacy of Secrets, and My Search for the Truth

“This deeply thoughtful novel about what causes societies to accept and to resist change has a perhaps unanticipated resonance in the wake of the racial unrest that has afflicted the United States this past year. But it addresses the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, now half a century old but neither finished nor forgotten. Through the lives of its three main characters and their friends and families, the book explores the segregated South, the in some ways no less segregated North, and the efforts—most notably during the Freedom Summer of 1964—to guarantee liberty.”
—C.P. LESLEY, Historical Novelist Tackles the Internet Age blog, Chasing the Fog Machine

“A poignant tale of a search for equality and justice during the Civil Rights movement. Breaks the reader’s heart at times with its truth.”
—HEATHER OLVEY, Reading Today Online, Putting Books to Work: New Takes on the Civil Rights Movement
 

"This absolutely brilliant tale should be required reading in every high school English class. Rich, witty, raw, deep, complex, and gritty. Touched with pervasive hope and seasoned with a sense of truth and honor. The history braided with the fabrication of character is seamless, clean, and natural. Well done, Susan Follett. I hated putting the book down and relished every opportunity to pick it up again.”
—Editorial Assessment, 2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards

 

 

Book Groups Are Saying

“A literal page turner whose language is rich and graphic, sometimes poetic and prophetic. A coming of age tale woven from the spectrum of cultural collisions our society offers: religious, racial, educated or not, rural or urban, rich or poor. The FOG MACHINE should be read, heard, and shared.”
JACKIE ROBERTS, Seattle’s The BookClub

Simply riveting. Generated more conversation than any book our group has read.”
RITA WILSON, Minneapolis’ Elephant Park Book Group

“History we should all know, delivered with tension and tenderness, disappointment and discovery, while deftly blurring the line between fiction and non-fiction and capturing Chicago as it was and is.”
KRISTY SWEIGARD, Chicago-area (LaGrange) Book Group

“Pulls the reader forward with hope that while reliving the assumptions, general mistrusts, and entitlements of the 1950s and 1960s is painful, some of those might yet be rectified. You have a winner!”
LAVON FLUKER-REED, Meridian High Class of 1970 Reading Reunion

Transports readers back to the tumultuous times surrounding 1964’s Freedom Summer, engaging around questions of race, values, courage, and love. A thoughtful starting point for discussions with family, a book club, or the classroom.”
PEGGY DOWNES, Rosemount, MN’s Possibilities! Book Club


Movement Figures Are Saying

“Captures essential, often overlooked elements of the Freedom Schools: teachers encouraged to improvise in response to their students and African Americans courageously offering hospitality to young whites from the North. Bravo!”
STAUGHTON LYND, Freedom School Coordinator, MS Freedom Summer

“Your fictional Freedom Summer students and teachers GOT IT. Thank you for remembering my brother. Great book! Great job!”
—BEN CHANEY, James Earl Chaney Foundation founder

“A brilliantly crafted, logically interactive story with characters one cares deeply about because they are depicted with emotional depth, authenticity, and consistency. Follett’s voice gave me goose bumps of recognition.”
JANIE FORSYTH MCKINNEY, former Anniston, AL, resident who became part of local civil rights lore by aiding victims of the 1961 Freedom Riders bus burning

“Follett’s ear has perfect pitch in capturing the ingrained attitudes, nuanced feelings, and voices of hope at the 1964 Meridian Freedom School. Children naturally play together; it’s the grownups who teach them to hate and fear. The more we reveal how that happens, the more we can be hopeful about changing it.”
—MARK LEVY, Coordinator, 1964 Meridian Freedom School

“Accessible history through a believable, engaging and meaningful story. A wonderful depiction of an era of struggles for dignity and freedom—with enduring lessons.”
—HEATHER TOBIS BOOTH, lifelong activist—with SNCC in Mississippi Summer
 

Historians Are Saying

“Insightful and highly readable. Written with sensitivity and insight about the nature of prejudice. The FOG MACHINE will resonate with teens and older readers alike.”
—JOHN DITTMER, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi

“Filled with the pleasure of discovering new and interesting people, The FOG MACHINE accomplishes the difficult feat of making history come alive through fiction.”
CLAYBORNE CARSON, Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute

“A thought-provoking story of the fragile relationships between black and white—as well as Christians and Jews—during a troubled time in America. The FOG MACHINE is especially valuable for young people who, if they know this period at all, know it only through history lessons and old newsreel footage.”
—CURTIS WILKIE, Dixie: A Personal Odyssey Through Events That Shaped The Modern South

“Engaging and impeccably researched. Sure to spark discussion of social change in the 1960s, as perceived by people of different racial and socioeconomic
groups and locales.”

—DEBBIE Z. HARWELL, Wednesdays in Mississippi: Proper Ladies Working for Radical Change

“A beautifully written and deeply moving, well-executed historical novel that examines a difficult time for us all. Factually accurate and socially and psychologically realistic in its representation of the Deep South in the 1960s.”
—JAMES P. MARSHALL, Student Activism and Civil Rights in Mississippi: Protest Politics and the Struggle for Racial Justice, 1960-1965
 

Educators Are Saying

“Immensely enjoyable. Offers young adult readers a way to understand the world and history through relationships—the way they learn best.”
VICKIE MALONE, McComb High social studies teacher, whose Local Culture class informed Mississippi’s K-12 public school mandated civil rights education curriculum

A delightful story—of love and heroism—which can change minds, especially young people’s, reminding us that not all heroes slay dragons; many keep themselves and others from being consumed by them.
—NANCY LEDFORD DENNIS, Associate Director, Southern Initiative Algebra Project

“That rare piece of historical fiction that simultaneously awakens the racial justice sensibilities of my activist self, the poetic sensibilities of my creative writer self, and the learning sensibilities of my educator self. In this way, a bit of a miracle.”
PAUL C. GORSKI, Assoc. Professor, George Mason University; EdChange founder; author, Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap

“A portrait of the complexity surrounding race in America, then and now. At once overwhelming—revealing so much more than we often want to consider or accept—and imperative.”
—ANNA STEPHENSON, Meridian Freedom Project: a college pathway program in the spirit of Freedom Summer 1964

“Wonderfully truthful on the issue of race. One of few, if any, novels about the Civil Rights Era that cover the span between the 1950s and today. A treasure trove for teachers and students.”
FAYE INGE, 1964 Freedom School student and career educator

“Beautifully written and impeccably researched. Engages as it explores the dynamics of relationship.”
JAQUELINE BYRD MARTIN, McComb, MS Civil Rights/Labor History Curriculum Development Project

“A rich and vividly written narrative, which transports the reader through American history. The FOG MACHINE is an anticipated summer selection for our Real Men Read book group.”
DR. TODD BEACH, 2010 MN Social Studies Teacher of the Year

“Studying this novel and interacting with its author has opened my students’ eyes to realities in our community and armed them with a more aware and empathetic perspective from which to pursue change.”
—LEE CARLSON, St. James HS English teacher, Southwest MN State University provisional instructor 


Independent Booksellers Are Saying

When our high school asked me to order The FOG MACHINE for its college-level English classes, I could not have anticipated the ripples. I went on to handle sales at the author’s “Stories from Civil Rights History” Community Engagement event. Having read this novel and heard Susan speak, I can’t stop talking about it and am hoping for a sequel. I now stock it for teachers, book groups, and other high school age kids—what better way to prepare them for college life! 
—JEANNE MIEST, owner, The Country Collage, St. James, MN


Librarians Are Saying

“That the mechanics of prejudice and its dissolution are so precisely and realistically depicted via relationships is a marvel—like seeing electrons move! And while white authors often perpetuate racism by having white characters engineer the liberation of non-white characters, The FOG MACHINE is something different and quite special, with so much to offer YA readers.” ... See More
SHEA PEEPLES, Teen Librarian, Wescott Library, Eagan, MN

“Thank you for taking time to share your knowledge and passion with RHS students!”

Susan Semmler, Rosemount High School Information Media Center Specialist
 

Social Justice Organizations Are Saying

“Susan Follett beautifully weaves the story of main character C.J. Evans’s struggles: protecting herself and those she loves, while following rules she increasingly suspects can change. Never patronizing, The FOG MACHINE paints an honest picture of the Civil Rights Movement. Follett understands that those we love shape our worlds.”
—SARA L. WICHT, Senior Manager, Teaching and Learning, Teaching Tolerance

The FOG MACHINE is a must read for those who want to really understand the granularity of racism even amongst well intentioned people.”
—DAVID GOODMAN, President, The Andrew Goodman Foundation

“This well-researched, beautifully written story invites us to reflect on our past, our history, and our relationships. Follett challenges our notion of what social justice really means in a very critical period when elitist and corporate groups—the fog machine—mislead us to believe the fight for civil rights and democracy belongs to the past.  Her wonderful narrative about the Freedom School curriculum and 1963 Chicago Freedom Day School Boycott reminds us that the struggle continues today as public neighborhood schools are closed, teachers are forced to teach scripted curriculum, and decisions are made, not by affected communities, but by those living in a different reality. Despite all this, love is what will ultimately free us from prejudices and greed. It is difficult, though, to love what we do not know; that is why critical and participatory education is key in the journey for love and social justice.”
BYRON SIGCHO, educator and activist, Chicago Teachers for Social Justice


Religious Leaders Are Saying

“This beautifully crafted story of young people grappling with the deep wound of systemic racism invites us to remember history and ‘re-member’ relationships. It reaches beyond the silences of our history toward the connection to which faith calls. Recommended for anyone compelled by the ways in which race still divides us.”
—MARY E. HESS, Professor, Educational Leadership, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN

The FOG MACHINE brings back memories of my days as a young student rabbi in Lexington, Mississippi and also of my work in Chicago.”
—RABBI ROBERT J. MARX, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., fought for housing equality on Chicago’s north shore
 

YA Audiences Are Saying

“THE most amazing book! You have to read it. While most YA books are told from a single POV, multiple POVs in The FOG MACHINE give a more rounded perspective. It’s hard to tell the ‘good guy’ in this book—is it the middle-class Catholic girl, the black domestic worker who goes north, the Jewish Freedom Summer volunteer? And what about the Klansman? Is there good in him? This is history told the way we’d like to be learning it, in a way that makes us want to listen.”
—ANNE, LAUREN, MAGGIE, AND TIM
,Teen Writers Book Group, Wescott Library, Eagan, MN

 

Filmmakers Are Saying

“A must read for anyone interested in social justice.”
—MICKI DICKOFF
, “Neshoba: The Price of Freedom”

 

Awards

2017 McKnight Artist Fellowship, Creative Prose

Silver medalist, South—Best Regional Fiction, 2014 Independent Publishers Book Awards

Semifinalist, 2011 and 2013 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition for the novel

 


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