Three stars means I liked it and I did. This was an airplane book, I bought it in an airport bookstore and read it getting on and off planes and checking in and out of hotels and it worked just perfectly for that context. Its historical fiction written to appeal very broadly, so its a bit simplistic, a bit after school special - racism is bad children, its mean and makes the nice people feel sad.
It clearly has chosen to be only a tiny bit challenging and operates within strict limits, people get angry, but not too angry, the brutality is only a little bit brutal and usually takes place "offstage" - carefully offset by hallmark hall of fame, healing power of friendship and laughter moments. Its all a bit Norman Rockwell with political relevance trimmings.
But I can enjoy the Rockwell world for a bit so long as I don't have to stay there forever, there are good, valuable things in that world. Its not like I don't believe in the healing power of friendship and family and goodness and apple pie and sunshine and cute kittens and puppies. Within its limits its a solidly crafted bit of fiction. If I had to read six or seven similar books in a row I'd probably lose it and start dressing entirely in black and doing performance art for awhile, but as a one off I thought it was nice enough and whiled away the plane trip lovely.