Getting Mother's Body
This debut novel from Parks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, earned comparisons to Zora Neale Hurston and William Faulkner. Set in Texas in the 1960s, the narrative tells the story of Billy Beede, a pregnant 16-year-old who gets dumped by her no-good lover. Hoping to pay for an abortion, she has only one prospect for getting money: digging up the body of her late mother, Willa Mae, and taking the diamond ring and pearl she was buried with. Billy, along with her aunt and uncle, set out for LaJunta, Arizona, where Willa Mae was laid to rest, traveling through a nation rife with racism and encountering a motley group of charactersfamily, friends and enemies that Parks brings to life through her wonderful gifts for detail and dialogue. The novel unfolds in short chapters and shifts points of view repeatedly to form a kaleidoscopic vision of 1960s America. This is an ambitious first novel from a wonderfully original writer. A reading group guide is included in the book.