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Five Smooth Stones

4.41 of 5 stars 4.41  ·  rating details  ·  1,813 ratings  ·  295 reviews
David Champlin is a black man born into poverty in Depression-era New Orleans who achieves great success and then sacrifices everything to lead his people in the difficult, day-by-day struggle of the civil rights movement. Sara Kent is the beloved and vital white girl who loved David from the moment she first saw him, but they struggle over David's belief that a marriage f ...more
Mass Market Paperback
Published 1980 by Bantam (first published January 1st 1966)
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Aug 23, 2007 Lori rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anybody
Shelves: fiction
This is an incredible story of an African-American young man growing up and pursuing his education during the turbulent sixties. My mom recommended this book to me, which she hadn't read since the year it was published sometime in the sixties.

Written during the period during which it takes place, the book explores the complexities of growing up black in the South, single parenthood, interracial relationships, and, of course, prejudice. I loved this book.
This huge novel should be required reading for anyone who thinks it's no big deal that Barack Obama is in the White House. Five Smooth Stones spans four decades of American history, from the Great Depression to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. David Champlin, a black man, grows up impoverished but in an emotionally rich environment in his grandfather's household in New Orleans, where white supremacy is unquestioned and officially sanctioned discrimination is rampant. Despite the ...more
This was on the bottom of an extra-credit reading list my freshman year of high school. For a 14-year-old white girl living a very insulated life, this book was a world-shaker. I still refuse to believe it's a novel - the story was so vivid the characters will always be to me, more than fiction.
This book was a contradiction in terms for me, like a lot of woman my age I read this when in the early 70's. it was first published in 1966. its the story of David Champlin an african american growing up in New Orleans in the 50's/60's. Really engaging charactors.

My entire book club read this book and most had also read it 30 yrs ago. Here is the overiding thought. 40 years ago, this book with it steamy romance between Sara and David was pretty racy and generated much controversy. America and
This is with out a doubt my favorite book of all time. I read it first in High School--lost if for a while and rediscovered it in the early 80's and have read it at least once every year since. Powerful and moving--I like to give it as a gift.
Apr 23, 2008 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lisa by: Mom
Wow. I first read this as a teenager and remember it being one of my all time favorite books. That said, as an adult, I couldn't remember it at all, so I decided to reread it. Part of me was so disappointed. Not with the writing.......for that alone I would give it 5 stars. I just wanted it to be more about the main characters and their love story. It's a really, really long book, almost 800 pages. The last third could have been cut down dramatically. The time period is so interesting, but she j ...more
my mentor recommended this book to me and stated, "this is the besk book i have ever read." coming from someone who loved kingsolver, plath and salinger, this really meant something to me. this is a wonderful novel that touched me in many ways, it is well written and would be interesting to anyone who is even remotely intrigued by prejudice, jim crow laws, and the struggle between races. this is a heavy and emotional novel that takes a lot of investment with 900 pages but i would recommend it to ...more
I loved this book! It is the story of a black man born in New Orleans during the Great Depression. It is his life story and goes through the Civil Rights movement. I learned things I didn't know about this time in history and it made me step back and reassess my own prejudices. This is a long book, but it moved quickly. Rated PG for a little bit of language. It dealt with some tough issues and I thought it was done very tastefully.
Shirley Freeman
I first read this in high school (early-mid 1970's) and loved it. I read it again in 1983 and was captivated once more. I have often referred to it as a favorite book but really couldn't remember much about it so thought I should re-read it for a third time twenty-eight years later. It is an amazing civil rights story but it is definitely dated. I still enjoyed it and still had tears streaming down my face at the end. The main character, David Chamberlain, is poor, black, religious, smart, and f ...more
Nicki Oldham
The first time I read this book was in 1976. I have an original hard cover from 1966. I periodically pick it up most recently in February of this year and every time I am drawn into the storyline. It is an inter-racial love story in a time when that was not acceptable. The main character, David Champlain, is trying to help his "people" during the Civil Rights movement while juggling his love of Sarah Kent, a white woman who fell in love with him when she met him. Ann Fairbairn has written this t ...more
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Jeanne L.
I read this many, many years ago and just recently decided to read it again! It had a huge impact on me then, but now, with experiences I've had it has even more. The writing is excellent! The story is real and makes the reader feel what the characters are feeling. I, personally, think this book should be required reading in every high school in the states. I lived through this era and saw much of this on the evening news. I have come to know many young African-Americans who know very little of ...more
Hands down my favorite book. Hard to find (especially since it is now out of print) but definitley worth it.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David is a poor black man raised in New Orleans during the depression era. He’s mentored by a white benefactor and attends college, ultimately meeting Sarah Kent, the white woman who will, one day, become his wife. It will be years, for they will struggle with the extraordinary pressures of interracial relationship, which force them apart. He will move on to do great things, become a highly visible leader in the black struggle, and will rise above the obstacles of race and poverty to obtain an e ...more
Mar 14, 2012 Karene rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ALL
I read this book for the first time when I was either in high school or just starting college...anyway it really touched me to the soul & I never forgot this book in all the years since! The very first book I wanted when I purchased my E reader was a copy of this book - so that I could Read It Again! I mean to tell you that it touched me - just as much - this time as it had done the first time. This was almost the only book that Ann Fairbairn ever wrote - and actually I believe they say that ...more
Paul Demetre
In an age where Barack Obama is President of the United States, and there have been both black men and women serving in the highest posts of the American military and government, it is easy to forget how recent it is that African Americans had to struggle for their most basic civil rights. Attempts to make it more difficult to register to vote in recent elections is the United States is one reminder, this book is another.

Five Smooth Stones (a reference to David preparing to battle Goliath in the
This book brings to acute understanding the life of David Champlin, a black born in the south, educated at Harvard. David's personality and how he sees things through a black man's eyes is so well written that the reader feels as though she were black and the undercurrent of fear and racism is always with her. When David's grandfather is killed in a racist street attack, David leaves his high powered career and goes back to the south to help his people. Omstead of the sword that David was to use ...more
Apr 02, 2011 Caity rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Caity by: Mom
LOVED IT! I'm on a civil rights movement kick and this one was recommended to me by my mother. She said it was her favorite book when she was in college. This seems to be a theme among people who have reviewed this book!

This is a tumultuous story about a boy that grows up during the civil rights movement in America. He is one of only a few black students accepted to a northern university. It follows the progression of events in the civil rights movement as seen through one man's eyes. It's a fab
Grandma Weaver
While I really liked this book I didn't give it 5 stars because I thought it was a little long, David Champlin was almost too good to be true and I thought the dialogue was stilted. Having said that it made me think more about that time in our history and how hard life was for black people. Even though I lived thru those times I'm ashamed to say I didn't pay a lot of attention. Today's black youth should have to read this book and be very thankful that some people (both black and white but mostl ...more
Sarah Logue
My mother had to hide this from me in high school--I was supposed to be studying but i couldn't stop reading. This was the first book that changed my life, the first book that made real a world beyond my sheltered, all-white suburban experience. It's also an insanely romantic love story, which made the bitter pill of its message (about race in America in the Civil Rights era) a lot easier for my 16-year-old throat to swallow. It's terribly sad and, I think, completely out of print, but I loved t ...more
I finished reading this book a few days ago and it's still with me. It was one of the most incredible books I've ever read. For me, it was one of those books that changes you. The story spans some 30 years and you get to know the characters intimately. From the depression to the civil rights era, the journey with the characters is moving, heart-aching at times and very thought provoking. It was one of several books I've read in my life that I cried very hard while reading. For anyone interested ...more
Jun 05, 2011 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
This book is about an interacial relationship which was pretty controversial in the 60s. I just got drawn in by the story and couldn't put the book down. It covers many years which was the kind of story I liked at the time. I often wonder if I would still love this book at much now.
May 28, 2014 Sonya added it
Shelves: 2014
I read enough of this book (40%) to realize I can't finish it. I found a scathing Kirkus review from 1966 that reveals the ending and the uncredited critic's bitter words clinched my decision. I know I shouldn't judge the mores of the past with today's opinions, but when being called gay is painted as the very worst thing that could ever happen to you, akin almost to murder or other "deviant" moral crimes without irony and without any acknowledgment of the homosexuals' basic humanity, it's hard ...more
I think I first read this book way back in the 8th grade. It was such a moving book that I went out and bought it for my mother and we both have re-read it more than once. It is a very gripping book.
I found this book at a book sale and couln't resist. I read the book in the late 60's, shortly after it was published. I loved the book then. I think it will be interesting to read it fifty years later and see if it has the same affect it had on me then. It will be a task, as even with my "cheaters" the print is REALLY small.

October 15th I finished rereading Five Smooth Stones. It took a long time to read it as it is such an emotional experience, reading it. I rarely cry when reading even a very
Judi Little
After reading The Help this Spring, I decided it was time to re-read one of my all time favorite novels. I first read this in the late 60's and have re-read this more than any other book. But it has to have been more than 20 years since the last time. An eye opening experience for a Northerner - even when most of what was happening in the deep South was current to when the book was published. It should be manditory reading for high school- even today. On top of that is a wonderful love story- Ve ...more
Linda S
I read this book for the first time in about 1978. I was so totally absorbed by the characters that they became my friends. David, Gramps, Sara, the real in my life. And, as all, old and really dear friends do, they left me a different person than before I met them.

I re-read this book once each decade. I can't read it any more frequently because of the wrenching emotions caused by the lives of these characters.

This is my favorite book of all time and I believe that it should be a must
I am not quite finished reading this book. I discovered it by accident one night when I couldn't sleep and my kindle was keeping me company. Bye bye sleep for another while. What a terrific book. There are enough descriptions of the plot. I just want to say that the Fairbairn has a way of capturing the time - of course it was written in the sixties - and the emotions of the people, both main characters and people of the time in general. I will be sorry to finish but thrilled that I found it. If ...more
I've lost count of how many times I read this book when I was in junior high school. Being the youngest in my family, made up mostly of non-readers, I was forced to read the dregs of popular fiction left lying around. The trips to the public library were never frequent enough for me, the offerings available at school were limited, and the advent of e-books was in the distant future. Thus, I read what was in front of me.

Another result of the lack of reading material was my need to reread everythi
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Five Smooth Stones 8 77 Jul 18, 2013 03:00PM  
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Ann Fairbairn (Dorothy Tait) was best known for "Five Smooth Stones," but also published two other books: a biography of New Orleans jazz clarinetist George Lewis, whose tours she managed, and a 1970 novel, "That Man Cartwright". During the 1930s she was involved with the WPA project as a writer. She worked as a riveter in the shipyards in San Francisco during World War II. In the 1940s she worked ...more
More about Ann Fairbairn...
That Man Cartwright: A Novel Und Wählte Fünf Glatte Steine: Roman Five Smooth Stones, A Monumental Novel of Forbidden Love

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