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A Strange and Bitter Fruit

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  388 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
A chilly spring night in rural South Carolina at the tail end of Reconstruction, the murder of innocents. This is the setting for the initial chapter of the historical thriller, A Strange and Bitter Fruit.

Thomas “Tee” Powell, 15, manages to escape as his family is lynched. His father, Zeke, mother Hessie and young sisters Lannie and Effie were hung to teach the blacks of A
Kindle Edition, 327 pages
Published February 27th 2010
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Harold Kasselman
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am amazed that this book was not accepted by a traditional publishing company. The author says in his postscript that they all said, "Who can sympathize with this character called Tee?". It's clear that Barry Davis could, and count me in as well.
This is an amazingly touching and heartfelt depiction of the Reconstruction Era in this country. The title is taken from a poem and subsequent classic song By Billy Holiday that references lynchings that took place in the South against blacks who were
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very powerful book. Thomas "Tee" Powell is a child in post Civil War South Carolina, when his family is lynched because his father is advocating for the black people to vote. Tee vows to avenge the deaths of his family as he runs and escapes from their killers. When he is old enough and strong enough he begins his quest for revenge and the bloodshed he leaves in his path is not minimal. This is a very violent, but seemingly realistic book. At the end, the author writes about how he had to self ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I don't think 'enjoy' is the word I would use after I read this book, but I am glad I read it. It was a moving story with some pretty graphic descriptions of how minorities, especially blacks, were treated after the US Civil War. Tee continuously faces a moral choice - revenge or move forward in peace. His decisions are the focus of the novel.

On a publishing note, the paragraph spacing on the Kindle version I read was not too good. Paragraphs with different topics ran into each other and several
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Why no publisher would take this book is beyond me. Stories about the oppression of the blacks abound, and most of the ones I've read related both their struggles and successes through the years. This one here is quite different. With a very heavy theme, the author finished the father's story quite tragically, then ended the novel with a prelude to the next, with the son, most probably as the central character.

Though progress has been made on the integration of the races, nothing promising as f
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I know that it's only January, but I've a feeling that this may be one of the best books that I'll read in 2014. I've never read any books by, or even heard of Barry Davis until I ran across this one on some unremembered website. It sounded good, and it was. This tells the story of Tee (Thomas) Powell, who narrowly escaped the lynching that killed his mother, father, and two sisters, one of them only 3 years old at the time. He runs the gamut from hatred, revenge, guilt, and finally the end of h ...more
Mary ellen
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was such a well written book. The characters were well developed, the plot was rich, and it took me through all the emotions on the spectrum! I could not believe what I read in the Author's Notes, that publishers would not accept this manuscript because they did not feel that we would feel sympathy for the main character. I read night and day and felt so much sympathy for Tee Powell.

The story begins with a lynching in South Carolina. A young boy escapes and then plans revenge on the men wh
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a true story about Thomas 'Tee' Powell in South Carolina. A small Negro boy saw his whole family lynched by the KKK. When he grew up he chased down all KKK members that was involved to get revenge and consequences by finding and killing them. This is a story of violence and race. Tee goes to all lengths to kill these men. He get married has two children and a loving wife but during one of the fights his own little girl gets killed and he then decides the battle is over no more killings. ...more
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have about 30% of this book left to read and this far I love it! I am really driven to see how it ends both from the stand point of the law and from how Tee, comes to terms with his life and which direction he is headed in or if he even lives to the end of the book!

Thus far I give this 4 stars and I will come back when I have completed my reading. How cool would this be as a movie!?

I'll be checking back!

Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
This story took place back in slavery days or at the end of slavery days anyway, it was a great read. It covered areas of lynching, black men in the army, the horrible way the Indians were treated, some awful lies that finally came to the forefront and how everyone that looked white weren't always white.

I really enjoyed the love story even though the end was not what I expected. This was an awesome book and will reread many times.
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Revenge. Most humans have the desire to avenge the wrongs committed by evil upon us or our loved ones. The question is, does it help us to feel better? Does it cure our hurt? Does it accomplish anything? Or does it simply compound the evil? Tee struggles with these questions in this beautifully written, heart wrenching book.
I wish I could give this 4 1/2 stars. Not quite a 5 star book for me, but very close.
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing book. I kept trying to visualize the main character, Tee Powell and low and behold, after I finished reading the book, a security guard at my building fit Tee Powell's profile to a T. It's like the author combined elements of modern day heroes and their abilities with a story of loss and revenge and redemption. Excellent read.
Irma Montano
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing


I loved this book. couldn't wait to get back to it. the story was captivating. can't wait to read more of your books. thank you for writing and giving me all these emotions and visuals.
May 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a great story that covers many settings and characters. Revenge or justice are the main theme. Which one of these depends on the readers' philosophies. Recommended to all mature readers of any race.
May 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
I checked this book out because the author was featured on the Amazon Kindle page as being self-published. He came across as a 'guy with a dream' who was trying to find his own way to make it happen, and I like to support people like that. I so wanted this book to be good, but it fell short of the mark on several counts, I'm sad to say.

It's not that the story put me off. (In the afterward, he claims that publishers were hesitant to take the book because of an 'unlikable protagonist.') Although i
Having read half a dozen slave narratives, and having forced myself to appreciate the incredible, heart-rending and often unimaginable stories of survival at the expense of my lingering dissatisfaction at reading of slave owners who never seem to get their comeuppance, I had very high hopes for this book. And it delivered...somewhat.

Don't get me wrong, the book is good; no, it was great; no, it really was just good...tongue-in-cheekiness aside, this sort of back and forth really was how I felt
Jo Notary
Jan 23, 2016 marked it as to-read
332p Thomas 1CTee 1D Powell, 15, manages to escape as his family is lynched. His father, Zeke, mother Hessie and young sisters Lannie and Effie were hung to teach the blacks of Aiken that voting is not the right of the former slaves, not anymore.
He is angry, but instead of wildly lashing out at the Klansmen that murdered his family, he runs away. After a disastrous detour to Tallahassee, Tee joins the Army and ends up in the West, at a remote Army outpost on the lip of the Black Hills. Here, he
Carol Read
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Four Stars
I really enjoyed this book. The author took a controversial storyline – the young sole survivor of a family lynched for the father’s desire to vote avenges their murders – and created a tome with a careful plot and storyline. Difficult situations of violence, lack of remorse, disdain and prejudice are deftly handled.
The characters – black, white, male, female – were relatable and a reflection of the US at that time.
Two issues (which I have seen in both self published and increasingly i
The plot is good. The author said he couldn't get it published, so he self-published, because the publishers said his main character as a sympathetic character. They were wrong. It was easy to side with Tee. It was easy to see his perspective. It does have some grammatical, punctuation, and verb tense mistakes (which most likely would have been taken care of had the publishers "liked" the book) but the plot is sound. I found myself rooting for Tee and hoping (even though I could see it coming) t ...more
Shawn Powell
Jun 27, 2013 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars really. 4 stars for the story, 3 stars for the style/editing. Good historical fiction that I enjoyed reading, but I was distracted and irritated by the way the character perspective changed unexpectedly within the chapters. Multiple paragraphs would be from Tee's perspective, but then suddenly the next paragraph would be from Billy's (or another character's) perspective. I could follow it, but it was irritating. Without that particular style/quirk, this book would have been 4 stars f ...more
Aug 10, 2013 rated it liked it
O.K., it's not that The story wasn't good, it's that I didn't like the story itself. You want to be able to cheer for the victim in their accomplishments in this type of story. Tee was too hateful to cheer for, too bitter. While that attitude may be more realistic for this scenario, it doesn't set him apart as anything special, certainly not someone worth writing a book about. I would have preferred to see Tee seek his revenge with a highly successful life despite the odds...that, would be worth ...more
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Almost a paged-turner. I was anxious to see how T's story was going to end. This was in part a difficult book to read-because of the violence. But, I can imagine that somewhere in this country's history, this scenario has played out.

It's hard to call T a good-guy, but I was rooting for him. Except for the truly innocent (his daughter and other by-standers)
most got what they deserved, including him.
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Strange and Bitter Fruit is a powerful and moving story of 15 year old Tee Powell who manages to escape while his family is being lynched. It follows his life journey which includes a stint in the army as well as his revenge on those who murdered his family. This has been one of my favorite books this month. My other favorite book was The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi. Yay Bookbub and its free books!
Nicole G.
Jun 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This took me a few days to finish, mainly because it's not easy reading. Lots of violence. Tee Powell's whole family is lynched at the end of Reconstruction. The men are after him, as well, but he escapes. One of the men, Billy Reems, has his own tale to tell. The two stories become linked as Tee vows to avenge his family.
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The story of a young black man who saw his whole family hanged by the Klan. He vowed to take care of every man involved.
The story follows him as he joins the Army...his quest to eliminate those who killed his family...being chased and finally falling in love and raising a family.
Very sad ending.
Karunakaran N.
A Strange and Bitter Fruit by Barry C. Davis ... The days of liberation of the coloured people in America reveled by the plot of vengeance and revenge, carried down to the future generations. The character Tee never holds the prospects in the readers mind, never has a consistency in his actions but the story has to unravel... A fast read...
Sarah Collier
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book comes at a time in which there has been very little literature from and especially this point of view. Most young adults have the impression that after the civil war slavery was over. However, this book shows the struggles that African Americans continued to have. Long but a good gripping story.
Aug 15, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a hard, violent an cruel story full of vengeance and retaliation. It is filled with anger and calamity. I don't know to whom I would recommend this book, yet it captivated me and had me page turning.
Oct 05, 2013 rated it liked it
While the story kept my interest, I found it just a bit hard to swallow. Without giving away too much of the story, the fact that Tee got away with all the violence and murders he perpetrated, many right under the nose of the law, was just too far-fetched for me. But a decent book nonetheless.
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really good. Violent and disturbing, it makes you examine the atrocities committed upon African Americans and what is the difference between justice and revenge. It is difficult to consider the main character sympathetic, he is greatly flawed, but I found myself both rooting for and against him.
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