100 Years from Now Our Bones Will Be Different

Lawrence McWilliams and Anand Vedawala, illus. by McWilliams. 540 Collab, $14.99 ISBN 978-0-692-51743-7
Inspired by Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology, this illustrated collection of first-person epitaphs follows 40 members of a fictional African-American family from 1915 to 2015. The epitaphs provide brief but powerful glimpses into the family members’ lives and personalities, social changes, and a web of secrets and traumas. Opposite the first-person epitaphs, McWilliams’s expressive sepia portraits freeze glimmers of hope, pain, uncertainty, and weariness on each face. Throughout, McWilliams and Vedawala achieve a haunting beauty through the voices of the dead: within the first few pages, readers witness the deaths of Sarah Williams (1878–1915) and her newborn son in childbirth (his epitaph is left blank) and husband Elijah’s grief over those losses, as well as that of son Arthur after tipsily stumbling in front of a car. Albert Williams (1911–1931) was killed by the Klan at age 20 (“Take my advice, don’t ever go to Portland,” he laments), and Alice, who is trans, is killed at almost the same age in 2008. Alternately melancholy, raw, and hopeful, it’s a striking account of a family’s perseverance in the face of recurring injustices, violence, and tragedy. Ages 12–up. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2016
Genre: Children's
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