Rating: 4.75 stars
Jerry Lincoln moved back to Sioux Falls, SD to take care of his grandfather and stayed on after his death. It seemed the perfect place to live and work, especially since Jerry’s small IT consulting business is run out of his home. As Jerry’s business grew, his friend talked him into hiring additional help in the form of IT students from the local college. Of the two men Jerry hired, John Black Raven made Jerry’s thoughts turn to things other than computer code, something that hadn’t happened in a long time.
John Black Raven needs this job and for two very specific reasons, his nephew and niece currently caught up in the SD Child Services Agency and placed with a foster family. John has been trying to get them back since his sister died with little luck. Now that he has a good job, John is hoping to prevail in his fight to bring his nephew and niece home for good.
As John and Jerry get to know one another, they start to realize that the relationship being formed is one that will last the rest of their lives and John starts to accept that Jerry will stand by his side in his fight with Child Services. Jerry is shocked to find out that Native American children are seen as a source of income by SD Child Services , the agency caught up in politics, greed, and bigotry. It will take everything the men have got and more to fight the system and bring the children home.
I know I can always count on a well written story with characters of substance from Andrew Grey, but this book surpassed my expectations and then some. The serious subject matter at the heart of this story was one I was unaware of just as Jerry Lincoln is at the beginning of the book. I have to admit it sent me on a search for more information, and I was horrified to find out that the situation explored by Andrew Grey in this story was actually far worse in detail. It is a heartbreaking case and one that Andrew Grey brings to life realistically and poignantly in The Good Fight. I won’t go into additional details here but will say that you should look up the situation on your own. It will shock and appall you that things of this nature are still able to occur now with the government’s casual oversight and approval. When reading this book, I thought surely Grey is overstating the issue, and I should have known better. If anything he used Jerry (as the mouthpiece for the reader) to voice the amazement and horror we would feel over discovering such a misplacement of judgement and child abuse at the hands of government officials. Any channel that helps to make people aware of the plight of South Dakota’s Native Americans fight to reclaim their youth should be applauded. And The Good Fight brings this issue to the reader with heart, immediacy, and a well researched story. Kudos to Andrew Grey for every aspect of this remarkable story.
Now normally i would talk about characters first, but the subject matter just begged to be put first. The characters of Jerry Lincoln and John Black Raven are well crafted, full of the flaws and layers I have come to expect from this author. I liked Jerry, a person still caught up in his grief over the loss of his grandfather, the family member who understood and supported him throughout his life. Jerry is caught up in his IT world, leaving his house only at his friend’s invitation or to shop for personal needs, like food. Only the growth of his business forces Jerry to interact with others, this time his employees to a wonderful result. I loved not only Jerry, but his friends, Peter and Leonard, a couple who have taken Jerry into their hearts. Through their interactions with Jerry, we actually learn more about Jerry’s past, his grandfather and his current situation.
John Black Raven, a terrific character on his own, is also used to inform the reader about the plight of Native Americans, not only with regard to the deplorable situation with their children and Child Services, but with the bigotry and racism that is evident not only in South Dakota but elsewhere in the United States. That is a heavy weight to put on one character but John Black Raven, as written by Andrew Grey, is certainly up to the task.
Finally, there is Bryce Morgan, the other man Jerry employes. Bryce is a character easy to connect with, so I was thrilled to hear that the sequel to The Good Fight, moves Bryce up from a secondary character to a main one. It is a position he deserves.
If I have any issues with this book, it is that I wished for more resolution for the problems with SD Child Services than what occurs at the end of the book. I am just not sure I should lay that at Andrew Grey’s doorstep. While he did resolve the case of John’s niece and nephew, the problems of disappearing children, well over 700, have yet to be put to rights in almost every way. So that frustration lingered after the book was over and maybe that is as it should be. Like a burr too close to the skin, a little irritation can move people to action, even if only to sign a petition. So pick up The Good Fight, you get a wonderful, heartwarming story along with a shocking tale of modern injustice that needs to move into the media mainstream. And there is a sequel to be read next, The Fight Within. I can’t wait. But start here first and check back with me on the latter. Again kudos to Andrew Grey, for a remarkable story that is big enough to encompass a love affair while shedding light on the ongoing plight of Native Americans out west. It does justice to both.
Cover art by Anne Cain. While I loved that Native American man in the background, the character in front is not my idea of Jerry Lincoln, a misstep in an otherwise gorgeous cover.