Far from the Tree

Virginia DeBerry, Author, Donna Grant, Joint Author
Virginia DeBerry, Author, Donna Grant, Joint Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-20291-0
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56740-923-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 374 pages - 978-0-312-97785-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56740-748-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-58788-319-4
Paperback - 358 pages - 978-0-312-33091-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-59600-516-7
MP3 CD - 1 pages - 978-1-59600-515-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-4692-4401-3
MP3 CD - 978-1-4692-4399-3
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Strong, colorful characters distinguish DeBerry and Grant's (Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made) warm and moving African-American family drama. When Will Frazier dies, his family gathers for the funeral in Buffalo, N.Y. Della, his grieving wife, is overwhelmed by memories. Celeste, the Fraziers' bossy eldest daughter, is driving away her husband and their 23-year-old daughter, Niki, with her controlling behavior. Younger Frazier sibling Ronnie, a struggling actress, is desperate to hide her hand-to-mouth existence from the family. Will has deeded a house in Prosper, N.C., to his daughters; a few months after the funeral, just as their lives are about to bottom out, they decide to inspect the place before they sell it, despite Della's protests. The house, it is eventually revealed, once belonged to Della's biological father, who took in 10-year-old Della (who was born out of wedlock) when her mother died. As Celeste and Ronnie explore the town in which their mother grew up, Della's story unfolds. Tormented and sexually assaulted by her violent half-brother Henry, teenage Della, a talented singer, finally finds happiness with Lester, an ambitious amateur performer. Lester leaves for the city and promises to send for her, but when Della must suddenly flee for her life after Henry accidentally kills their father, she loses touch with Lester, eventually moving to New York and marrying his friend, Will, in 1957. In the present day, Della joins her daughters in Prosper when Ronnie falls ill and finds unexpected comfort from the friends she'd left behind, just as her daughters confront the realities of their lives. Although the narrative ends abruptly and predictably, the story otherwise moves gracefully between the 1950s and the present day, and an unusually varied cast of minor characters add spice to the full-bodied tale. 150,000 first printing; author tour. (Sept.)
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