Joyce Van Haren's New Historical Fiction Follows Family from Kentucky to Detroit
In "On Woodward" (published by Abbott Press), the new historical novel by Joyce Van Haren, the colorful tale of a young artist's trials and triumphs comes to life against the backdrop of prejudice and poverty in Detroit during the Great Depression, World War II and the 1943 Detroit race riots.
"On Woodward" is the story of young artist Alma May Combs and her family who, in 1930, flee to Detroit from the dangers of Kentucky coal mines, where her coal miner father was nearly killed twice in methane explosions. The novel spans 14 years, and covers the triumphs and tragedies of the Combs family as they live through and are affected by the Great Depression and World War II, all while experiencing prejudice for being, as Van Haren says, hillbillies.
An excerpt from "On Woodward":
"'There ain't nothin' wrong in your wantin' to be successful in paintin' and makin' lots a money, long as you go about it right.' Her mother's voice was getting louder. 'An' as far as you 'startin' to meet some important people'-them people ain't our kind a people, Alma May. We're hillbilly people. Since we came to Detroit City you've been gettin' a big head.'"