Nowhere Else on Earth

Josephine Humphreys, Author Viking Books $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-670-89176-4
A tragic accident causes a young woman to question her faith in this cross-cultural Christian love story. Leah Travers is devastated when her husband and their two-year-old son die in an accident caused by drunk driver Manuel Garcia. Although her domineering parents urge her to move back to Houston, Leah stays in Fort Worth. She finds an apartment she can afford and takes a job in publishing, working for the first time since college. But she has no friends, and she falls away from the church, tormented by the unanswerable question of why her loved ones died while Manuel walked away from the accident. Leah takes to driving around Manuel's neighborhood; though he is in prison, his pregnant wife, five kids and brother-in-law, Jacobo Martinez, still live in Fort Worth. On one such trip, Leah encounters Jacobo, who has dropped out of law school to care for his sister and her kids. Leah and Jacobo begin to meet for coffee and meals, and Jacobo takes her to his warm and welcoming nondenominational church. Just as Leah finds herself falling in love with the younger, motorcycle-riding Jacobo, readers will fall for this fast-paced romance, empathizing with Leah as she grieves and heals, cheering for Jacobo as he woos her. (Sept.) NOWHERE ELSE ON EARTH Josephine Humphreys. Viking, $24.95 (320p) ISBN 0-670-89176-2 ~ While Humphreys has been justly praised as a writer with her fingers on the pulse of Southern culture, she surpasses even her previous novels (Dreams of Sleep; The Fireman's Fair; etc.) in this spellbinding story of a largely forgotten remnant of Indians caught between opposing sides during the Civil War. Scuffletown, on the banks of North Carolina's Lumbee River, is home to the mixed-blood descendants of the original Indians in the area, desperately poor but hardworking families who eke out a living in the arduous turpentining trade. Other nearby residents are ""the macks""--Scots planters who hold the money and power, and own black slaves. During the last months of the Civil War, the lawless Home Guard, led by sadistic Brant Harris, conscripts boys from Scuffletown into forced labor building Confederate fortifications. Teenage narrator Rhoda Strong, daughter of a Scots father and a Lumbee Indian mother, relates the circumstances that lead her brothers to join renegade Henry Berry Lowrie, charismatic scion of Scuffletown's most respected family, in hiding out and defying Harris and his henchmen. In a narrative layered with indelibly memorable scenes, Humphreys depicts the moral ambiguities that beset Scuffletown's residents and the ironies of their precarious position; the sympathies of many are with the Yankees, yet they endure the depredations of Union troops as well as of marauding Confederates. The major irony, however, lies in Henry Lowrie's fate. Pursued by the profiteering hoodlums he has thwarted, Henry eventually becomes a thief in order to survive, and in time, an outlaw hunted for murder. He is arrested in the midst of his wedding to Rhoda, whose coming-of-age is the frame on which the novel rests. Humphreys constructs her intricately wrought plot with understated eloquence, and she breathes life into the landscape of this piney, swampy rural area. Each of a large cast of splendidly realized characters is informed by her understanding of the subtleties of human relationships when race is a factor. Most impressively, she illuminates a largely unknown facet of the Civil War, finding universal resonances in the suffering and quiet heroism of a beleaguered remnant of marginalized Americans. In its historically accurate delineations of the violence, greed and betrayal engendered by internecine conflict, and of corresponding bravery, sacrifice and heartbreak, this novel makes a powerful statement. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-101-19998-5
Hardcover - 460 pages - 978-1-56895-957-3
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-09-941546-6
Open Ebook - 978-1-101-42266-3
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4464-9436-3
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-14-100206-4
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