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Four Spirits cover
January 2004
Four Spirits
by Sena Jeter Naslund

In 1963, the steel town of Birmingham, Alabama found itself in the glare of the national spotlight. Sheriff Bull Connor turned fire hoses and police dogs on peaceful civil rights demonstrators, many of them children and teenagers, and became a symbol of segregationist defiance. Then in September, members of the Ku Klux Klan bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing four little girls who were getting ready for a service. Their deaths galvanized the civil rights movement and forced the people of Birmingham—including a teenaged Sena Jeter Naslund—to confront the deep divisions within their city. Naslund, an aspiring writer, promised herself that she would someday revisit that painful time in a book. The result is Four Spirits, a wide-ranging novel that tells the story from many perspectives, in which both historical and fictional characters, black and white, awaken to the cruel realities of violence and the redeeming power of love, friendship, and courage.


Card catalog entry from the Library of Congress

Blurbs from the book cover

Amazon.com information page

Barnes and Noble information page

In the Memory of Four Little Girls—a site about the church bombing and its aftermath, with links to more information

More information on the bombing, including Martin Luther King’s eulogy for the young girls

Sena Jeter Naslund
Sena Jeter Naslund

A biography from the Kentucky Arts Council. The biography is part of the Kentucky Art Council’s Web site about its Five Kentucky Poets Laureate: An Anthology, a collection of poetry and prose by Richard Taylor, James Baker Hall, Joe Survant, Sena Jeter Naslund, and Jane Gentry.

Q&A from a publisher’s press release

Video interview with bookclub host Bill Goodman; March 2004 [requires RealPlayer®].

Audio interview and readings from National Public Radio’s Morning Edition

Sena’s previous novel, Ahab’s Wife, was our July 2000 selection


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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17-May-2011 15:56:17 EDT