The Twelve-Mile Straight

Eleanor Henderson. Ecco, $27.99 (560p) ISBN 978-0-06-242208-8
Lingering in the overheated world of the Deep South during the Depression, the convoluted second novel by Henderson (Ten Thousand Saints) delves into questions of race, class, and gender, sometimes at the expense of character development. When Georgia sharecropper and bootlegger Juke’s teenaged daughter, Elma, claims to have given birth to twins, one white and one black, her father and her wealthy ne’er-do-well fiancé become enraged, and a black field hand is lynched. Elma cares for the children with the help of Nan, a mute young black servant and midwife in whom Juke takes an interest. The babies are treated as a miracle by some in the community and a sin by others, and they attract the attention of both a polio-stricken researcher who studies sickle cell disease at a university in Atlanta and the members of a chain gang who are paving the little back road on which Elma’s family lives. The richly detailed landscape of the volatile mill town where the novel is set immerse the reader in an unsentimental version of the South under economic and social pressure. The plot of the novel is less promising: readers are likely to figure out supposed secrets long before they are revealed. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/17/2017
Release date: 09/12/2017
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-269487-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-5415-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-5417-6
Ebook - 560 pages - 978-0-06-242210-1
Paperback - 800 pages - 978-0-06-268818-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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