Laura McBride has done a marvelous job creating the characters in her latest book “‘Round Midnight”! These four women will stick with you for a long time after finishing the book!
It is the fifties in Las Vegas, when June meets Dib and they end up running El Capitan casino. The casino nightclub, Midnight Room, hits it when the two of them hire Eddie, a charismatic African-American singer. His voice is that of an angel, his moves are the ones that bring all the women. June knows that in order to succeed in this business, they need to focus on the entertainment.
Honorata is from Philippines. She arrives in Chicago as an ordered bride to a businessman she never met. It was not her choice, so when she wins the Jackpot in El Capitan Midnight Room, she does not spend another minute thinking about it. With June’s help, the casino owner, she abandons the man she was forced to marry before even getting to the chapel. She is now free to live her life and see to her mother’s needs, without having to suffer.
Engracia is a Mexican immigrant. She had come to the States with her husband seeking for a better life, while she ends up alone working in Midnight Room, at the El Capitan casino in Vegas. After a heartbreak, she ends up doing housekeeping for Honorata. One day, as she answers the door, the Chicago businessman is there with a gun.
Coral is an African-American music teacher. She lives in the same street with Honorata. When Honorata asks her for a favor, she finds herself in the Midnight Room, where she finds the answer to a long lasting question.
The whole 50s atmosphere is described so vividly in the first part of the story. The location is Las Vegas. The attributes we get is the whole racism that was not really there in the beginning, but how it evolved as southerners came to work in the casino and hotel constructions. All the racism that was so tense in the south, is transferred in Vegas, where we see Black people singing in the nightclubs, worshiped in there, but not allowed to stay in the hotel rooms, not allowed to own a house in a decent area. There is also this mafia thing that existing in gambling business and how it affected the whole city life.
Then there is human trafficking some decades later. Girls that are shipped to US, as brides to men they never met. Not even agreeing to this whole transaction, but being blackmailed to do so. Grooms that actually believe they had a mail correspondence with the bride to be, when they were actually writing to the dealer. So much decay in this world and still nothing happens about it.
Then there are the poor immigrants, dreamers of a better life. Those still exist as well. The people that have to work several hours in a raw that exhaust them and they end up with very little time to spend with their families, to get some rest, to be good parents and look after their children.
Laura McBride is an amazing storyteller! There is more on to how the story ends, but there is no need to spoil the ending by providing insights on Coral’s story. Just go through it and you will realize the greatness of the book and the talent of the author!