cover image Night Wherever We Go

Night Wherever We Go

Tracey Rose Peyton. Ecco, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-324987-5

Peyton’s powerful if uneven debut unfurls on a floundering Texas plantation in the years leading up to the Civil War. Six Black women are enslaved to a white family, the Harlows, whom the women refer to as “the Lucys” (as in Lucifer). Among the enslaved are Patience, Nan, and Serah, and a chunk of the novel is conveyed in first-person plural as they’re forced by the Lucys to breed with traveling “stockman” Zeke. Nan, trained in medicines, helps the others avoid pregnancy via herbal treatments, and after a second failed attempt, Zeke never returns. The women also sneak away from the plantation at night for clandestine gatherings, and, at one of them, Serah falls for Noah, a worker at a neighboring farm who longs to escape to Mexico. Meanwhile, the Lucys purchase two men, Monroe and Isaac, whom they marry to Serah and Patience, hoping they’ll provide offspring to sell off. As a meditation on motherhood and bodily autonomy, this mostly succeeds, particularly in the novel’s closing chapters, yet the author’s choice to frequently shift perspective from the women to an omniscient narrator doesn’t quite work. Still, it’s clear Peyton has much talent to burn. Agent: Henry Dunow; Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (Jan.)