The House of Eve

S.  & S. Feb. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781982197360. $27.99. F
Taking on another fascinating under-told piece of women’s history in this well-researched new novel, the author of Yellow Wife illuminates the impact of unwed pregnancy through the alternating narratives of two young Black women in the 1950s. Supported by two loving, hardworking parents, Eleanor Quarles is studying at the pinnacle of Black higher education, Howard University, and she plans a career as an archivist. Ruby Pearsall, the daughter of an unwed teenage mother, is struggling to be the first in her family to go to college, via the We Rise program for high school students of color in Philadelphia. Eleanor and Ruby are both forced to make heartrendingly difficult choices, revealing startling truths about adoption, race, and class in the United States in the years before legalized birth control. Sparked by the author’s own family history, this timely novel imagines the emotional turmoil of two young Black women of vastly different circumstances in the 1950s, as unwed pregnancy and the stigma surrounding it threaten to derail their carefully made plans for college and careers.
VERDICT This is a moving work of women’s fiction with timely perspective on racism, colorism, and pre-Roe women’s rights in the United States of the 1950s. Fans of Tayari Jones, Brit Bennett, and Jeni McFarland will want to check it out.
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