Knee-Deep in Wonder: A Novel
A dazzling first novel about four generations of fear and longing in the deep South
Who're your people, girl?" It's the song of the South, the big question, persistent and unforgiving. Helene Strickland, daughter of Lafayette County, Arkansas, and lately of the Northeast, doesn't have an answer. Instead, she has memories riddled with half-truths, stories heard in fits and starts, a family history from a family that doesn't know its own past.
In the steamy August of 1976, Helene returns home for her aunt's funeral determined to learn the truth, but her probing yields more questions than answers: Why did her grandmother, Liberty, a cotton picker turned saloon owner, have no name until she was fourteen? Why does Queen Ester, Helene's mother, dress like a child, talk to no one, and refuse to see her own daughter? And who was Chess, a man with a terror of water, a man like a honey trap who drew the women and then destroyed them?
In a mesmerizing narrative, April Reynolds seamlessly weaves past and present, intricate flashbacks and interlaced stories to produce an epic novel of one family maimed by the deepest wounds of history. Rich with legend, poetry, and historic events, Knee Deep in Wonder captures the complex humanity of black Southern life.
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Knee-deep in wonder: a novelUser Review - Book Verdict
Set in rural Arkansas, Reynolds's debut novel has echoes of Faulkner, Morrison, and McCullers, but most of the characters and all the events are unmistakably her own. From Liberty's birth in 1898 to her granddaughter Helene's search for her name and people in 1976, Reynolds explores the longing for place and the nature of memory and mothering. Helene hasn't seen her mother, Queen Ester, since she was a baby, and when she returns home from the Northeast for a family funeral, she decides to find out why. She discovers that Liberty, motherless and nameless until she named herself at 17, held daughter Ester too close, keeping her a child even throughout her pregnancy. Finally, Helene encounters Ester, and as they spend the whole day talking, half-known family secrets come to light. Brave and foolish Liberty takes her place in the pantheon of Southern women who do their best against heavy odds. And though Chess may be a familiar character-lover to both Liberty and Ester, he's jobless, violent, and married but effortlessly wins love, whether maternal or sexual-he has his own complicated and intriguing history. Recommended for most collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/03.]-Judith Kicinski, Sarah Lawrence Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY ...
Review: Knee-Deep in Wonder: A NovelUser Review - Goodreads
Southern family tale - not very interesting, predictable, and not much happens.
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A Review of "Knee-Deep in Wonder" by April Reynolds
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knee-deep - Encyclopedia.com
knee-deep • adj. immersed up to the knees: we were knee-deep in snow. ∎ having more than one needs or wants of something: we sh
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