My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: A breathtaking Georgia-mountain epic about the complex bond of mothers and daughters across a century.
In the autumn of 1941, Amelia J. McGee, a young woman of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish descent, and an outspoken pamphleteer for the NAACP, hastily sends her daughter, Ella, alone on a bus home to Georgia in the middle of the night-a desperate action that is met with dire consequences when the child encounters two drifters and is left for dead on the side of the road.
Ella awakens to find herself in the homestead of Willie Mae Cotton, a wise hoodoo practitioner and former slave, and her partner, Mary-Mary Freeborn, tucked deep in the Takatoka forest. As Ella begins to heal, the legacies of her lineage are revealed.
"Glow" transports us from Washington, D.C., on the brink of World War II to 1836 and into the mountain coves of Hopewell County, Georgia, full of ghosts both real and imagined. Illuminating the tragedy of human frailty, the power of friendship and hope, and the fiercest of all human bonds-mother love-this stunning debut will appeal to readers of both Sue Monk Kidd's "The Secret Life of Bees" and Amy Green's "Bloodroot."
My take: What a talented author this is! It is one thing to tie together a generation or two. Quite another to tie together a couple of family trees and generations.
The book is told by multiple perspectives in different time periods. The first voice introduces a couple of characters and the current conflict. The next voice might be a character introduced by the previous character but eventually they all tie together into the same family tree, although not a straight line. The cultures cross between American Indian, Southern white, and black.
One character is struggling because racial tensions have escalated and she no longer feels her young daughter is safe. She puts her on the bus and the girl disappears. She's frantic and sick with worry. Another character is torn from her mother's arms and sold to another family. It is slavery U.S. and my heart broke into a thousand pieces as I read the point of view as a slave.
Another character is a boy who discovers he is part American Indian and left to care for his toddler sister who seems to be mentally unsteady and difficult to keep corralled. He is living in a prejudiced world and wondering who he is - black, Indian, white? Can he rise to his trials? Through him we meet a multitude of other characters who play no small part.
It is part historical fiction, part ghost story, part epic novel. Beautifully written in the language expected (black slave English or 1940's Southern states) with descriptions that paint amazing pictures. All stories are tied together. My only complaint is how loosely they are tied together. I yearned for a more solid ending rather than the assumptions I was to make. I still highly recommend.
About the Author: A filmmaker and graduate of MIT with a degree in anthropology, Jessica Maria Tuccelli spent three summers trekking through northeastern Georgia, soaking up its ghost stories and folklore. She divides her time between Italy and New York City, where she lives with her husband and daughter.
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