As the racial and political upheavals following the assassination of Martin Luther King tear apart the Midwestern college town of Norton Bluffs, Principal, Cassie Daniels’ junior high school threatens to become a battleground for fear, idealism, and anger. With convictions shaped by the integrated backwater where she grew up, Cassie fights to maintain stability as hostile camps, her idealistic husband, splits in her faculty, and students’ fear threaten both her job and her marriage. The chief victims of this battle are the students from Cassie’s own home neighborhood whose budding adolescence is consumed by the warring factions of both town and school. Told in many voices, the story takes us inside the turmoil that has polarized the nation ever since.
If Cassie Daniels is the strength of the author’s energetic narrative, the young teenage students are its pulse, a Greek chorus chanting under the noisy howl of the games adults play. As expected, a great deal of this novel is devoted to these adolescents’ emotional responses. Particularly endearing are Kirscht’s portrayals of how the kids try to cope with a world that they are too young to understand. Kirscht does an excellent job telling her story from many perspectives.
“No Where Else to Go” is a tenacious read that captures the grittiness of the undertow of racism and prejudice. However, some may find the first several pages a little hard to follow as you are taken instantly into the fray of the battle, but if you hang on, you will find this dense novel to be fast-paced and hard to put down. I heartily recommend “Nowhere Else to Go” as a tightly woven and insistently engaging novel about racial prejudice and the blackboard jungle of the 1960s.
Judith Kirscht’s characters defy stereotypes as they tussle with the deeply rooted racial and class conflicts that year apart their Midwestern college town, following the death of Martin Luther King. She brings alive a very different view of the conflicts that split the nation. I highly recommend her writing.
–Norma Tadlock Johnson, Author, Hazards of the Game
Capturing the essence of that troubled period in our history (1968-69) is not an easy task. By placing us in a small Midwestern community, taking us through the school year at a local junior high, and telling her story through the voices of children and adults who embody the conflicts triggered by the Vietnam War, racial unrest, and two devastating assassinations, Judith Kirscht gives us a snapshot of the time that is compelling in its vividness and its narrative drive.
–Toni Fuhrman, Author, One Who Loves
In a quiet Midwestern college town caught up in the turmoil of the 1060’s, Judith Kirscht creates the compelling novel of a junior-high principal struggling to find a way through that tumultuous period … Starting as a noble cause for equality, the unraveling threads of a small town’s prejudices are exposed, fueling disintegration in the relationships among school faculty, friends and marriage. Expertly peeling back the layers of emotional entanglements, suspicion and distrust, Nowhere Else To Go is the capstone of a master writer at the top of her craft.
–Patricia Bloom, Professor Emeritus, University of Miami
NOTE: Nowhere Else To Go is no longer in print, but is available used at Amazon.com and at local libraries in Stanwood, Belllingham and Skagit Valley libraries.