Read Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole Online


**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**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 being prim, proper, and reserved—as if that could bring her mother back—but the nonviolent protests happening across the South bring out her inner agitator.Ivan Friedman has devoted his life to boxing, loving the finesse of a well-delivered punch and the penance of receiving one. His family escaped from Europe before the horrors of WWII, and Ivan decides to help fight injustice in their new country, even if it goes against all his instincts as a fighter.When Ivan and Sofie meet, they realize that their pasts are intertwined and—with the sparks that fly between them—perhaps their futures will be too. With everything in their society lined up against them, will Sofie and Ivan be able to beat the odds? Or will their chance at love be destroyed by the tumultuous times they live in?...

Title : Let It Shine
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 29522514
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 134 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Let It Shine Reviews

  • Tina
    2019-02-14 16:10

    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 in my comfy PWI, Division-A, student-centered research institution with an enrollment close to 25,000 students. And I was completely riveted by at the activism of these college students who were riding into danger, sitting at 'whites only' counters, and who had prepared wills because they knew they might not make it home. Since I was studying journalism at the time, I developed a girl crush Charlayne Hunter-Gault who was one of the first students to desegregate the Univ. of Georgia, her story is also told in the documentary.This story is set in the same time focusing on one miss Sofronia Wallis who had let her own light dim a bit in the aftermath of her mother's untimely death. But Sofie is a woman with passions and convictions and she wants to be part of the movement.So does Ivan Friedman, a white Jewish man who knew Sofie when they were children. IHe'd had a major crush on her but their life paths converged after that fateful day of her mother's death. Ivan also joins the movement and he and Sofie start up a new chapter in their relationship.I liked this quite a bite mainly because it is a time and era and backdrop that romance novels don't like to visit. But it is a vibrant time and one that I'd like to see more often. I very much like the characterization of Sofie who had repressed so much of herself. As you read you get the real sense of her true self needing to peek through and escape, very much like like light escaping through small crevices to shine bright.I also liked the fact that Ivan was Jewish and that the author ably included pieces of that culture as well as Ivan's perspectives on the comparisons between Jim Crow and the conditions that existed when parents escaped from Europe right before WWII.Th book had a nice dose of realism with scenes of the students drilling and learning how to take taunts, physical threats, an even punches and hits without reacting to violence as well as descriptions of them watching news reports of attacks on the Freedom Rider. But it is still a romance and Sofie and Ivan were sweet together. I recommend. Also recommend the books the author cites at the end, especially the McWhorter book which my husband uses as a text in his Civil Rights courses. Also "Eyes on the Prize" is a must see!

  • sraxe
    2019-02-11 15:09

    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 sugarcoating anything here when it comes to the violence and the racism of the time."Of the time," I say. You know...there were a number of times I wanted to update my status with something racist that happened in the book and tack on something about the "racism/climate of the time," but that felt like a lie. The more I watch the news, the more I realize that there's really not that big of a difference between how black people (and other POC) were treated then versus how they're treated now. Now we just like to pretend that we're so ~progressive~ and accepting and totally not racist.A group of whites, hundreds of them at least, surrounding a Greyhound bus. ... Ivan shuddered. The hatred in the eyes of the men surrounding the bus was chilling. ... This undiluted disgust that could drive you to harm your fellow man simply for existing?Are things really so different now?Seriously...over and over again, Cole mentioned hateful acts black people (and their white supporters) were victim to, and I stopped every time and thought Well...that's not so different now. I just saw something like that on a news coverage...This was a great book if you read it for the history, which I highly recommend.If you're going to read it for the romance, however...well, it's not bad, really, but I feel like it could've been worked on a bit more. When I read Be Not Afraid by Cole, I thought it was too instalovey/lusty. In this case, I think that probably would have still been the case, but because it's kind of a second chance romance (they were friends as kids but haven't seen one another in eight years), so it doesn't feel as instalovey because they're not strangers. However, it still plays into a trope I don't like at all, and that's the pairing of an experienced hero with a virginal heroine. Sofronia mentions that she's kissed other guys and has "fumbled" around with some, but she's still a virgin (which is implied). She's also never felt any pleasure, at least that's what she pretty much says when Ivan gives her an orgasm.Ivan, on the other hand, mentions that, although he's never stopped thinking of her in the eight years and has always looked for her, hoping they'd meet again, he's still been with other women. It's not detailed, but it's pretty much implied when it's said that "intimate encounters were nothing new for him; ladies liked a guy who could hit and punch and dominate in the ring." That's the only mention of his experience, so it might not bother some, but it's more that it bothered me because this is just another book with this type of pairing. (And I kept hoping that maybe, once they finally got together, he might say that he'd never actually been with anyone else, but it's not, so I took him at this earlier word of his and marked him off as experienced.)Oh, and because Ivan says to Sofronia that "[he'd] never stopped thinking of [her]" and had "always kept an eye out for [her], hoping one day [they]'d see each other." And if they met again, he'd know for sure that he was either wrong and finally move on, or know he was right that something could happen between them. And, like...with the mention earlier of how he's no stranger to intimate encounters with other women...well, he's moved on. Maybe not emotionally, but he did physically. And his words would've rung true to me if he'd actually WAITED for her.This was what kept me from giving it five stars.The other reason why I don't think you should read it for the romance is, because while it was sweet and there totally wasn't romance, it did feel secondary to the Civil Rights activism. And don't get me wrong, I totally loved that the author didn't push that to the back burner to concentrate on the romance, but it's just a warning there. There isn't even really a consummation scene and it's told in flashbacks the day after. And the only ILYs come in the second epilogue, and that's only from Ivan.Oh, and this is one of the few books that I actually TRULY believe in the HEA because the author wrote an epilogue that happens three years later. That was fine. Then there was ANOTHER epilogue set nine years after that epilogue, and it showed them coming together and working on them after a rough patch (miscarriage). Ivan says they'd grown distant and things had started to change, but I loved that the author included that because usually books don't show you what happens well after the book closes, with the epilogues usually set a few months later with a sugary-sweet HEA. Those HEAs aren't bad, but I liked that the author showed them working on their marriage after a rough patch.ANYWAY. Again, I highly recommend reading this book. Although I rec not reading it simply for the romance, it was still super sweet and the two paired off well together. The Civil Rights aspect of this book is what really makes it a standout.

  • Mónica BQ
    2019-02-15 18:35

    4.5 rounded upI 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 on race because of what he knew of injustices based on religion, him being a Jew, whose parents had fled Europe; to the way Sofie trained herself in that way that many of use still do- to look smaller, talk quieter and less, have no opinions- to be a "proper lady" until she found the courage to say enough is enough. I loved it all.My only complaint? A couple of times I felt like the secondary plot (the Freedom rides and the sit-ins and the protests) took a bit of the protagonism away from the romantic plot. Which for me, should come first- always- in a Romance. This is a common complaint of mine. And in this case is more of an afterthought. I understand why everything had to happen like it did, but maybe this story would have worked better for me in a full length novel. I also feel like that epilogue-type ending turned a bit too sweet after a really well balanced romance novel.But all in all? Read this.

  • velvetgypsy
    2019-02-17 20:26

    Exceptional historical romance!From 'The Brightest Day': A Juneteenth Historical Romance ANTHOLOGY

  • Kim
    2019-02-22 21:11

    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 of Sofie's mother. Now years later, they've both become activists, getting involved as nonviolent protesters in the civil rights movement while the communities around then advise otherwise. For Sofie, her father only wants her to be respectable and not make waves. He thinks he is keeping her safe in trying to groom her into a docile young woman. For Ivan, now a regional champion boxer, he and his father are at odds over his boxing--his father wanted him to be a scholar--and in how they each deal with their grief over the loss of Ivan's mother. This would be enough to cause problems for the two--but race and religion separate them. Sofie is black and Christian; Ivan is white and Jewish. And in this point in history, interracial relationships are punishable by law. And segregation is the law in Richmond, Virginia in the 1960s. What I loved about Let It Shine that it weaves in the politics and history of the time so seamlessly with the love story. Both have equal weight in this story. And really, this is not something we can ignore. It would have been disingenuous to ignore or pretend that the violence directed at the Freedom Riders never took place. And to write a story set during this time period--the early 1960s--and setting and NOT take it up would have led to a boring and not very interesting story. But Alyssa Cole took the challenge and tackled it head on, giving the readers a fantastic sense of the courage and fear Sofie and Ivan have as they embark upon their journey into adulthood and to the reality of what their lives will be in 1960s America. A five-star read! I look forward to Alyssa Cole's next release!

  • Book Riot Community
    2019-02-22 16:31

    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 Shine is excellent and significant because of the fact that it’s a romance, not in spite of it.— Trisha Brownfrom The Best Books We Read In June 2016:

  • Ariadna
    2019-02-12 15:14

    Actual rating is 4.5Sometimes, 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 as adults, never ever breaks. I LURVED getting inside their heads as they reconnected and became aware of their mutual attraction. This is romance done RIGHT AND THEN SOME, LOL!Then, there's the writing. Which, is SWOONY AF also BEAUTIFUL and VIVID. There's a v. definite sense of place (starting in the early 60s and ending in the mid-1970s) as we follow Sophie and Ivan navigate a world in which individuals had no other option but to push back against oppression and hate.It was super cool how Sofie, a self-described goody-two shoes, became more assertive. Not because of her feelings for Ivan, but because she'd always had a fire inside of her. I'd say that Ivan didn't change as much as Sofie did, but I was charmed by how he supported Sofie emotionally throughout the entire novella.Now, the historical aspect was done exceedingly well. I didn't see anything that would've been out of place with the time period (as far as dialogue and setting.)And now for the things that made me go :|My one (main) gripe was that the novella was too short. This was something I felt more acutely in the last two chapters + epilogue. The story does two major time jumps that include a lot of important events in Sofie and Ivan's lives. IMO, their story needed (at the very least) two more chapters for breathing space.The first minor annoyance was that, given Sofie's upbringing and background, I was surprised to not see her interact with her community aside from attending church on Sundays and the non-violence protest group every so often. Also, aside from Sophie, there only two other female characters appearing here and there in the story--and that rang a bit strange since Sofie's activist role meant she'd interact with a lot of women.The second minor annoyance was a sudden personality change that occurs in the last 20-25% of the story. [Character who isn't Sofie or Ivan] switches their perspective due to something so insignificant that it leaves you wondering why didn't [Character who isn't Sofie or Ivan] did that before.TL;DR: A wonderfully sweet historical romance that will give you tons of feels and then some. Highly recommended despite the short length of the story.

  • Ami
    2019-01-25 16:07

    3.5 starsI 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 Freedom Rides all about. I found myself learning things and that is one of the best things about reading, right?Oh, I also found the fact that Ivan's background as Jewish to be interesting -- since Jewish Americans also suffered from prejudice, and the conflict Ivan felt because his father didn't see why he should sympathize with the movement felt real. I liked the heroine too, Sofronia, her struggle and wanting to stand up for her rights was compelling.Sofronia and Ivan were wonderful; Ivan was winning my heart left and right though. His feeling towards his Sofie was loud and clear and I believed in him completely.Having said that, I thought some parts of this novella also felt to be rather glossed over, maybe because of the limitation of the length? I guess I wanted to read more about the relationship too, in addition to the social background. I loved the short story though, it made me a bit teary eyed as well.

  • Bookish
    2019-02-22 20:34

    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 (

  • Stacy
    2019-02-11 21:09

    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.

  • Leta Blake
    2019-02-17 16:28

    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.

  • Megan Erickson
    2019-02-21 15:26

    Loved this. Read it on a plane ride and I was glad it was a long flight because then I could read this beginning to end.I thought the characters were well-drawn, had great motivations and the conflict was well done for a novella. I've said this before, but a novella isn't just less words. It's an art, and Alyssa nailed it. Loved it and highly recommend.

  • pobreza
    2019-02-20 19:32

    this is a solid 3 stars book. while i disagree with some things politically speaking, the romance was strong and sofie & ivan were almost perfect together. good read.

  • Sha
    2019-02-13 15:30

    *4.5 stars*"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."Let it Shine combines civil rights activism with a woman's journey from self-censorship to freedom of expression, in the backdrop of a childhood friend romance that's just MADE up of warm fuzzy feelings. Since I like my romances to be a means/method solving a significant external conflict, this suits me just fine.

  • namericanwordcat
    2019-01-24 22:21

    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 characters with a shared past and impossible future made possible by bravery of every kind. I love the imagination of this romance. What would make a white boy get involved in the movement? What was going on the mind of all those pretty gloved women refusing to get up from the lunch counter?Why so many Jews in the Civil Rights movement? What were the generational tensions? And with all this intense terrain, don't think that love story isn't just flat out hot in places. Just because a woman irons in pleats to her dress, doesn't mean she doesn't notices a sexy mouth and strong forearms. The heroine goes through a wonderful arc in her character from suppressing herself out of grief to fully become herself. And the hero just loves her. Sees her. And he is steadfast and wonderful and yet there is a realism to his love that doesn't make him more than human.The writing is spot on. I teared up and smiled. The epilogue a treasure of its own.Can't wait to read more of Alyssa Cole.

  • Sunil
    2019-01-24 19:32

    Sofie Wallis has been taught to be a "proper" black woman, but the Civil Rights Movement is no time to sit down and shut up. Ivan Friedman has been training to be a boxer, but non-violent protesting certainly has its appeal. In a turbulent time, these two will find a connection, despite their fathers' prejudices—Mr. Friedman doesn't want his white son dating a black woman, and Mr. Wallis doesn't want his Christian daughter dating a Jewish man. Alyssa Cole characterizes both of them well, diving deep into their histories and their presents, and the romance, in a way, feels almost secondary to the major question of whether they will get involved in the Civil Rights Movement. It's a time where both of them will have to figure out who they are as individuals, whether or not it means they'll be together. Overall, it's a vivid portrayal of an important period in our history, as well as a well-drawn cross-cultural romance.

  • Kat at Book Thingo
    2019-02-12 21:16

    Read by Rudi for Book Thingo. This is an extract from her review:Let It Shine isn’t just a must-read, it’s a keeper. I could go through all the reasons why (other than the ones I’ve already mentioned) but really I’d just be taking up valuable time you could be spending buying and reading this beautiful, special, delicious book.Full review at Book Thingo.

  • Gina
    2019-02-14 15:26

    This novella absolutely shines as a romance and historical fiction set in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. The setting was rich; the characters fascinating, real, and relatable; and the romance smoldering and delicious. Alyssa Cole is going on my must-buy list now.

  • Claire
    2019-02-08 21:09

    TWO epilogues! TWO! I had no idea how utterly satisfying it would be to meet the characters again a few years later (like you do in genre romance) and then AGAIN a dozen years later after trauma and experience. WOW. Dear romance writers, please can we make this a thing?

  • Julio Genao
    2019-02-01 23:18

    I will make this mine.

  • Paula
    2019-01-31 18:30

    I really liked this historical romance. It is set during a tumultuous time period for America: 1960s. Ivan and Sofronia are adorable as they are falling for one another. I fell in love with them both. The sense of setting and the minor characters around them were fitting. Sofia (Sofronia's new name) is very committed to the church and the black community in her small town in Virginia. Ivan is a Jewish boxer who is estranged from his religious background as well as within his household. The two cross paths while coping with the fractures within their local community as well as reacting to the civil rights protests they see happen on TV. I feel like Cole packed so much into such a short novella. It was rewarding and well worth it. I liked seeing the courtship through both people's eyes. I enjoyed reading about how they coped with the religious differences within their lives. The minor characters were all endearing. Some things did seem a little too predictable or a little too sweet at times, but I believe that was there to balance out the darker moments. I also appreciated that the author went out of her way to use Hebrew and Yiddish for prayers or in reference to things happening Ivan's life. A definite must read. My first experience with Cole's writing, but I will definitely be picking up some her other novels now.

  • Funmbi
    2019-02-09 21:20

    Alyssa Cole is quickly becoming one of my favorite romance writers. Her Civil War, interracial romance, An Extraordinary Union, is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, and as I’m moving through her catalog, Alyssa’s other books are also fantastic. She has a fabulous way of writing emotional stories with incredibly relatable characters. The fact that these romances are complicated by the racial inequality of the time makes them even more compelling. I swoon, cry, rage, and in the end feel so encouraged.I gobbled up Let It Shine in an afternoon and adored every moment. The book might be fictional, but it’s couched in well-researched history that prevents the reader from settling into any sort of complacency… because we could very well know people like these characters, who shared these experiences. Let it Shine is all the more wonderful because of this.For me, Let It Shine is such an edifying read, especially in the current political climate. Yes, this is a love story, but it’s also about Sofie as a Black woman, growing into herself and her purpose, and finding allies to join her on that journey. It’s not at all easy, but from the epilogue, we know that for Sofie (and Ivan) it’s 100% worth it.***Read the full review at We So Nerdy!

  • Diana
    2019-02-06 15:25

    I went to high school in segregated small town Virginia in the mid 60s and without a doubt Alyssa Cole got that part right. I wish I'd been as brave and aware and as fiercely active as Ivan and Sophie. I'd also like to go back to the time of Sophie and Ivan's epilogue--1973 when the great civil rights legislation of 1964 prevailed, our troops were finally coming home from Vietnam, and Roe vs Wade was new and strong.This story moved me. It is a lovely romance suffused with hope and optimism in turbulent times.

  • Silvana [The Book Voyagers]
    2019-02-02 15:17

    I got the anthology this book is on and to be honest, I really wanted to read Alyssa's story. And Let It Shine was so!!!! ALL THE FEELS. It's about a black woman that throughout all her life she has been this perfect and nice person. She knows she wants more in life. Then there is the hero who is just adorable and caring and you see it so clearly. Both of them have this chemistry that lights up the world. It's too bad it's only a novella, so short, but it was such A GOOD NOVELLA and I am happy right now.

  • Latasha Scruggs
    2019-02-08 20:33

    3.5 lots of potential! I liked Sof very much and the interracial romance aspect was a big plus. However I felt the book had more to say than what the author gave us. Cole does a decent job of glazing over what occurred in the time jumps she uses, but the were feelings and situations that would have been better had she written them out. I feel like I've read the cliff notes version. A delightful and quick read nonetheless, I will be looking into the authors other works!

  • Shannan Harper
    2019-01-28 15:18

    I had no idea this story was part of a previously published anthology I bought a while ago, but I immensely enjoyed their journey from the civil rights movement where they reconnected and into the future. another new author that's a keeper

  • Marie
    2019-01-24 23:36

    Loved this so much. Review to come.

  • KateK. F.
    2019-02-05 22:19

    Let It Shine is a powerful book about how difficult it can be to do the right thing, the long shadow the grief leaves on lives and a wonderful romance with childhood friends meeting again. The heart of this story is the nonviolent actions during the Civil Rights movement and two activists preparing to participate and making choices within their lives. Cole has the amazing ability of making a novella feel like an entire novel with her writing. I was completely pulled in by the two characters and their lives. My only unhappy moment was the epilogue which references a miscarriage and the idea that only when they have a child will their marriage fully work. Though I did enjoy revisiting the two families in that epilogue and seeing what's changed and what hasn't.

  • Renée Dahlia
    2019-02-02 19:31

    Historical romance set in USA in 1960s. Emotionally charged, full of history and people politics. This is a brilliant read. Alyssa Cole is going onto my automatic buy-all-her-books list.Although, I do have to stop reading on the train. It's slightly awkward when a book makes me cry while on public transport, commuting to work.

  • Highlyeccentric
    2019-02-08 23:25

    I really liked the first half set-up and was very meh about the second half. Historically super interesting, engaging lead pair, but not enough sustained conflict in the romantic plot and far too much epilogue tailing off at the end.