Knee-Deep in Wonder: A Novel

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Macmillan, Sep 2, 2003 - Fiction - 301 pages
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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 novel

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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 ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

April Reynolds teaches philosophy and creative writing at New York University and lives in New York City. Knee Deep in Wonder, her first novel, received a Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Award for unpublished work.

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