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"[A] noteworthy debut...[and] richly detailed portrait of life in the racist South. McCarthy gives voice to the individuals whose 'time in the fire' was Florida in the early 50’s... appropriate for all who wish to reexamine this dark chapter in American history." ~

In the orange-blossom scented spring of 1951, Reesa McMahon is awakened at dawn to learn that the local Klan has brutally murdered her closest friend and mentor, nineteen-year-old Marvin Cully. The killing of this gentle black man, who worked in the McMahons' orange grove, will turn the genteel town of Mayflower, Florida, into a battleground.

As violence erupts across the state, and Thurgood Marshall and Harry T. Moore of the NAACP join the McMahons to unmask Marvin's killers, Reesa's younger brother becomes the target of a Klansman's bullet. Reesa's search to make sense of her town's soul-killing bigotry will pave the way for our country's painful steps toward justice, equality, and guaranteed civil rights.

Featured Alternate of The Literary Guild and The Doubleday Book Club.

Critical Praise

"[E]vocative... Reesa is an engaging narrator, obsessed with the murder of her friend Marvin, slowly becoming aware of the virulent hatred and bigotry that coexists with their neighbors' generosity, good manners and Baptist spiritual fervor." ~Publishers Weekly

"An engaging approach that blends power with simplicity, truth with innocence. Recall the powerful little Scout, Atticus Finch's daugher in Harper Lee's classic To Kill A Mockingbird." ~The Tampa Tribune

"This is a beautiful book about personal courage - the courage of McCarthy's father, of early [civil rights] leaders like Thurgood Marshall and Harry T. Moore, and of the black community that endured Florida in the early '50s."
~The Orlando Sentinel

"Poignant and beautifully written."
~The Lebanon (MO) Daily Record

"McCarthy weaves the stormy history of the Florida KKK with a coming-of-age tale about a girl and the changing community in which she lives. Justice is possible, Reesa learns, but even when it is not, one can live through anything with the right attitude and faith."
~The Miami Herald

"It’s a rare book that can move me emotionally, impress me with its literary quality, and fill my heart with the hope of human trust, bravery and dignity. Lay That Trumpet In Our Hands is such a book. I can virtually guarantee you won’t be disappointed." ~Deadly Pleasures

"In this deceptively simple tale of a girl’s coming to maturity during evil time, McCarthy shows us something more: a community banding together under fire, and a family willing to shoulder a terrible responsibility. Lay That Trumpet In Our Hands is, in microcosm, what the civil rights movement meant — and means — to all the men, women, and children involved."
~Laurie B. King, best-selling author of Folly


*Michigan Technological University Freshman Read 2009
* Montcalm County, Michigan One Book-One County 2008
* Michigan State University Freshman Read 2207
* City of East Lansing One Book-One Community 2007
* St. Johns County, Florida Reads 2007
* Tampa-Hillsborough Reads 2005
* Chautauqua South Fiction Award 2003
* San Diego Magazine's Book Award for Fiction 2003
* Deadly Pleasures' Best U.S. First Novel 2002