Dial. Apr. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9780593230480. $27. F
DEBUT Narrating through multiple women’s voices as she spans the generations of one Tennessee Black family from the 1930s to the present, Stringfellow creates a chorus novel that reveals the trials and the triumphs of the North women—Hazel, Hazel’s daughters August and Miriam; and Miriam’s daughter, Joan. Set against the backdrop of Emmett Till’s murder and Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, the novel draws upon the abundant local flavor of the Mississippi Delta capital and its complicated political history. The North’s stories are of women enduring and resisting all manners of hardship—domestic violence, sexual abuse, poverty, and heartbreak, not to mention systematic racism. Not the least among these strong women is Joan who prevails against tremendous personal and social odds that are sometimes difficult to absorb. This family saga about strong, talented, and determined women is unveiled in a non-linear fashion.
VERDICT Stringfellow has crafted a rich tapestry of women’s familial relationships. Occasionally, she may restrain her characters emotionally, which flattens their dimensionality, but overall this is a well-written debut by an author worth watching in years to come. Recommended for anyone who appreciates Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, or Gloria Naylor.
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