Grace

Natashia Deón. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $25 (400p) ISBN 978-1-61902-720-6
Deón’s powerful debut is a moving, mystical family saga set over the course of 25 years in the deep South. The ghost of Naomi, a woman who escaped slavery, narrates, beginning with her own gruesome murder moments after she delivers her blond-haired baby, Josie. Careening back and forth through time, Naomi first recounts her childhood flight after the grisly murders of her mother and the man who enslaved them. The story lurches from Naomi’s youth in a Georgia brothel to Josie’s childhood in an Alabama plantation house, where she’s been taken in by Annie Graham, a barren white woman. Annie lives with her pedophilic, lecherous brother, George, who preys on Josie when she’s at her most vulnerable. Naomi relives falling in love with a white gambler and becoming pregnant with his child. As a ghost, she hovers over Josie as she, too, falls in love, with the son of Annie’s onetime house slave, Sissy. Naomi must watch helplessly as Josie gives birth to twins whose father leaves not once but twice to fight for their freedom. The book provides penetrating insight into how confusing, violent, and treacherous life remained in the South after the Emancipation Proclamation, and how little life improved for freed slaves, even after the war. The omnipresences of Naomi’s ghost renders the story wide-angled, vast, and magical. Deón is a writer of great talent, using lyrical language and convincing, unobtrusive dialect to build portraits of each tragic individual as the sprawling story moves to its redemptive end. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2016
Release date: 06/14/2016
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-61902-943-9
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-61902-772-5
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