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Let It Shine

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  965 ratings  ·  188 reviews
**Let It Shine originally appeared in The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology. This version features the original story, as well as a bonus short story, No Valley Low.***

Sofronia Wallis knows that proper Black women don’t court trouble by upending the status quo, but it’s 1961 and the Civil Rights movement is in full swing. Sofie’s spent half her life
Kindle Edition, 134 pages
Published March 14th 2016 by Seditious Sisters
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Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
*3.5 stars*

A timely read and an important romance novella, though I really wish it was longer so the couple got more page time to develop.

Novellas are hard to do well, but Alyssa Cole did the novella format justice with Let It Shine. I picked an incredibly relevant time to read this topical story of a romance between a Black woman and Jewish man set in the early 1960s. Whew, this book was tough to read at times, but it's such a powerful little story.

My only real gripe is that as a romance, it
When I was in college I saw an excellent, excellent documentary on PBS called 'Eyes on The Prize' It was a multi-part look at the civil rights movement, starting with the murder of Emmit Till and hitting all the high points: Martin, Malcolm, Selma, 'I Have a Dream' speech, letters from Birmingham etc., right on through the assassinations of King, Kennedy, Kennedy and Malcolm.

But the one thing that stuck out for me were the episodes on SNCC - the Student Non-Violent Coordinating committee. I was
Cole is unapologetic in her depictions of racism in this novella. There are not many romance books I've seen that depict this era at all, and if they've done so, it's not been as accurately as I feel Cole has. Too many times, it ends up being whitewashed. I don't know if it's that they subconsciously make the decision to sugarcoat it, or if it's just something they choose to do because of their own history and guilt that makes them do it purposely. BUT, you will not find Cole pulling punches or ...more
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: black-authors
Let It Shine is a fantastic romance novella set in 1961 during the Civil Rights Movement. It blends difficult to read moments with humor and heart, with a romance I was pulling for. It features a Black, Christian heroine and a white, Jewish man who were childhood friends and crushes. Alyssa Cole packs a lot into this little story and it's just really well done.

Since the death of her mother, Sofie has submitted to her fathers expectation that she become the perfect model of a proper Black woman,
Steph's Romance Book Talk
4 Stars / 2 Steam Fans

Video review available in Week 2 Jan 5 – 11 weekly book reviews.

For other video book reviews check out my YouTube Channel: Steph's Romance Book Talk.
Mónica BQ
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fav-romance
4.5 rounded up

I mean, this was near perfect. Or maybe I've been in an incredibly mushy mood lately. I don't know. But the thing is that Sofie's and Ivan's story was divine.

Set in during the time of the Freedom Rides in the USA, the book follows the couple through a bit of their childhood, their harsh but sweet reunion, and the subsequent intricacies of a mixed-race romance in the 60s. And really, you should read it. Everything about it is interesting. From the way Ivan processed injustices based
Kate Olson
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous historical romance (novella) set in 1960s Virginia featuring the Civil Rights movement and the love between a Black woman and a Jewish man. I will read ANYTHING Alyssa Cole writes because she has never once let me down. The audio version from Audible is fabulous.
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Leave it to Alyssa Cole to write a historical IR romance that tackles one of our most violent and divisive periods of history. Thank you, Alyssa, for writing Let It Shine and sharing it with us. I loved it from start to finish!

This tightly written novella is a coming of age story for Sofie and Ivan, who've known one another since they were children--Sofie's mother Delia was the housekeeper for Ivan's family and Sofie and Ivan were childhood playmates whose friendship was cut short by the death
3.5 stars. This was a super enjoyable novella, with two characters finding each other amidst a serious and heartbreaking time in history. I looked the romance quite a bit, but the view into what it was like to be a Civil Rights protestor was what really shined for me. Loved the two separate epilogues, so we could see how Sofie and Ivan handled the political turbulence that we knew was yet to come.
Book Riot Community
Really exceptional historical romance can remind us that love existed even in the times in our history that are darkest and most pivotal. In Let It Shine, Alyssa Cole’s Civil Right movement-focused novella, Cole reminds readers once again that weighty topics and love stories are not mutually exclusive. The story considers anti-semitism, violence, feminism, religion, family, and love. Cole writes about the best and worst parts of human nature, and she manages to do it in about 150 pages. Let It S ...more
Dec 28, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: freebie
🎁 FREE on Amazon today (12/28/2019)! 🎁
Jan 25, 2021 added it
I liked this, but it needed to be longer!
“Black girls can’t be princesses, Ivan.”... “Well, Jews can’t be Nazi hunters, but I’m the best there is!” He’d run ahead a few steps, spraying down a line of imaginary SS men with his imaginary gun, then looked back at her. “Besides, every beautiful girl can be a princess. I read it in a book.”

I hate expectations because when things happen differently it sometimes becomes difficult to adjust my feelings accordingly.

When I started this book, as usual I went in blind. I just knew the title
Mar 19, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

I bought this novella (only $0.99) because 1) It's #DABWAHA 2016 nominee (and have been praised at both SBTB and Dear Author websites -- as both gave this novella A/A- rating) and 2) I've been wanting to try interracial romance in my M/F collection too.

For the most part, I enjoyed this -- as a non-American, I found the background of Freedom Rides and the fight for Civil Rights movement in the 1960's to be well-drawn. This story made me doing some Google browsing, reading about what Free
Mar 10, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-english, 2020
Read March 2020
I love how Alyssa Cole combines her romance with serious topics such as racism. Let It Shine is a mixed race romance (featuring a black Christian woman and a white Jewish man) set in 1960’s Virginia during the Freedom Rides.

Also, I'm really impressed by how much she makes me care about these characters in what is only a hundred page novella.
'Nathan Burgoine
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
One of the things I love about romance is the baked-in HEA/HFN, and I will die on that hill, but sometimes the way everyone comes around—most notably bigoted family who say and do terrible things and are forgiven—leaves me one step removed from the story. That's okay, and it's not like it ruins the tale for me, but it does put distance into my experience as a reader. ...more
Korrie’s Korner
This book was sooo good! Set in Virginia in 1961 in the thick of civil rights turmoil, and injustice we have Sophie, a black woman and Ivan, a Jewish boxer. I love a childhood friends to lovers trope. I always feel like I get such a history lesson when I read Alyssa’s books. The research is just so thorough and written so stellar. I can’t help the feeling of pride I get when I read about those that paved the way before me for my freedom. Sit ins, Freedom rides and for some prison. I am forever g ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Actual rating is 4.5

Sometimes, a book appears that touches your heart and mind and leaves you rolling on the floor, drowning in feels. Not because it's perfection but because reading it was a journey.

This novella by Alyssa Cole is one of those books.

First off, let me say that the dual POV really (REALLY!) works to this story's advantage. Ivan and Sofie are two (almost literal) peas in a pod as children and that bond, though a bit dulled because of distance by the time they meet each other again
I just finished Let it Shine by Alyssa Cole and wow. All the stars!

I listened to the entire story today (around 3.5 hours) because I could not wait to see how this couple, who faced so many challenges, would get their HEA.

Set in the 1960s during the lunch counter sit-ins, Let it Shine is a childhood friends to adult lovers interracial romance between a Black Christian university student and a White Jewish Boxer who reconnect during a non-violent protest training.

While their story is fraught with
Aug 24, 2017 added it
Shelves: romance
Let it Shine is a master class in writing a novella: moving, sexy, and perfectly paced. Sofie and Ivan are childhood sweethearts who drifted apart. She’s prim and proper and buttoned-up, and he’s a rough-and-tumble boxer. He’s Jewish and she’s black, and it’s 1961 Virginia, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, when interracial marriage was still illegal (Loving v. Virginia was decided in 1967). This book tore my heart out and then pieced it back together. —Alisha Rai (https://www.bookish. ...more
Leta Blake
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. I just realized that I have other Alyssa Cole books in my already purchased but never read TBR. I should get on those. <3 Recommended.
Rachel- Goodbye Borders
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2020
Sofronia and Ivan knew each other growing up as kids. Her mom worked for his mom. After her mom's death, they lost contact. They reconnect as adults at a meeting for civil rights and how to conduct non-violent sit-ins.
This was amazing. I loved this book. I adored Sofie and Ivan. This highlights the struggle for freedom, the basis human right to be treated as a person. To sit where you like. To be treated with respect. To be treated with dignity. The violence and hate.
The strength of this book (I
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Trying to find words to do a review but I still have tears in my eyes thinking about this novella. A beautiful story, despite the ugly that Alyssa Cole doesn't shy away from. The story is set in 1961, during the Civil Rights movement. Sofronia Wallis is a young Black woman and Ivan is a young white man and Jewish. They used to play together, when her mother was working for his family, but life happened and they meet again, 8 years later, at a nonviolent coordinating committee meeting.

It's book
Jessica {Litnoob}
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Why wasn’t this a full length book?!?! The passion the pain the history and the long time span all would have made for this being an epic full length novel. But even beyond that I’m glad it was written at all because a love story between activists is one I didn’t know I needed but now I want so many more.
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: did-i-cry
A wonderful historical novella set in 1961 Virginia about two young activist fighting segregation, becoming Freedom Riders, and eventually helping racial and sexist injustices.

Alyssa isn’t afraid to show how evil this world is. How unfair this world is. But also how amazing it is when people that are willing to fight for whats right can change history.

CW: Anti-Semitism; Racism; Miscarriage
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book, minor editing issues aside. It went much deeper into the history of the civil rights movement than I thought it would. I also found interesting the exploration of the relationship between the African American and Jewish communities.
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
another great one by Alyssa Cole
This is a perfect gem of a novella. The setting is perfectly set in terms of time and place. Then, Cole moves her characters on to this stage asking who are they and what if?

What follows is a perfectly pitched interracial romance between childhood friends: a proper Black woman and a Jewish boxer in during the lunch counter sit ins and other civil rights actions in Jim Crow 1960's South.

There are tidbits of lesser known history but most wonderfully the tender and fierce love story of these two c
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Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and sci-fi romance. Her Civil War-set espionage romance An Extraordinary Union was the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award’s Best Book of 2017 and the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018, and A Princess in Theory was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018. She’s contributed to publications including Bust ...more

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“What will your father say?” “And what if you get hurt?” David asked. “What if I do?” Sofie asked. “It’s the chance we all take. You just sent me up here because you thought it would be funny. Because I’m so sweet.” She laughed bitterly then, and if anyone had been under that impression, they were surely changing their minds now. “The bottom line is I’m one of the best-qualified people to do this sit-in. I’m young, photogenic, and I’ve been quietly suffering fools for most of my life. I can do this.” 1 likes
“Hope alone can't change things in this country.” 0 likes
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