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Promise
by Minrose Gwin


Overview -

In the aftermath of a devastating tornado that rips through the town of Tupelo, Mississippi, at the height of the Great Depression, two women worlds apart--one black, one white; one a great-grandmother, the other a teenager--fight for their families' survival in this lyrical and powerful novel

"Gwin's gift shines in the complexity of her characters and their fraught relationships with each other, their capacity for courage and hope, coupled with their passion for justice." -- Jonis Agee, bestselling author of The River Wife

A few minutes after 9 p.m.  Read more...


 
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More About Promise by Minrose Gwin
 
 
 
Overview

In the aftermath of a devastating tornado that rips through the town of Tupelo, Mississippi, at the height of the Great Depression, two women worlds apart--one black, one white; one a great-grandmother, the other a teenager--fight for their families' survival in this lyrical and powerful novel

"Gwin's gift shines in the complexity of her characters and their fraught relationships with each other, their capacity for courage and hope, coupled with their passion for justice." -- Jonis Agee, bestselling author of The River Wife

A few minutes after 9 p.m. on Palm Sunday, April 5, 1936, a massive funnel cloud flashing a giant fireball and roaring like a runaway train careened into the thriving cotton-mill town of Tupelo, Mississippi, killing more than 200 people, not counting an unknown number of black citizens, one-third of Tupelo's population, who were not included in the official casualty figures.

When the tornado hits, Dovey, a local laundress, is flung by the terrifying winds into a nearby lake. Bruised and nearly drowned, she makes her way across Tupelo to find her small family--her hardworking husband, Virgil, her clever sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Dreama, and Promise, Dreama's beautiful light-skinned three-month-old son.

Slowly navigating the broken streets of Tupelo, Dovey stops at the house of the despised McNabb family. Inside, she discovers that the tornado has spared no one, including Jo, the McNabbs' dutiful teenage daughter, who has suffered a terrible head wound. When Jo later discovers a baby in the wreckage, she is certain that she's found her baby brother, Tommy, and vows to protect him.

During the harrowing hours and days of the chaos that follows, Jo and Dovey will struggle to navigate a landscape of disaster and to battle both the demons and the history that link and haunt them. Drawing on historical events, Minrose Gwin beautifully imagines natural and human destruction in the deep South of the 1930s through the experiences of two remarkable women whose lives are indelibly connected by forces beyond their control. A story of loss, hope, despair, grit, courage, and race, Promise reminds us of the transformative power and promise that come from confronting our most troubled relations with one another.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780062471710
  • ISBN-10: 0062471716
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company
  • Publish Date: February 2018
  • Page Count: 400
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Historical - General
Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Family Life - General

 
BookPage Reviews

Two families, twisted together

On Sunday, April 5, 1936, a tornado devastated Tupelo, Mississippi. More than 200 people were reported dead, and the hundreds of African-American casualties were not even counted. The stories and folklore surrounding the storm flourished for decades—a woman found a baby in a crepe myrtle, a cow flew upside down, etc. In her second novel, Minrose Gwin (The Queen of Palmyra) harnesses the intensity of the tornado and pieces together a dual narrative of survival.

Dovey Grand’homme is an old African-American washwoman, and Jo McNabb is a white 15-year-old schoolgirl. The Grand’homme and McNabb families are connected by more than just the intimate laundry that Dovey sorts through weekly—they are also irrevocably linked by a despicable act. Son McNair, Jo’s older brother, raped Dovey’s granddaughter, resulting in a light-skinned baby boy named Promise. During the storm, both Promise and Jo’s baby brother are lost. When Jo finds a baby in her yard, she assumes it is her brother, and the premise is set for this impressive novel.

Promise takes on the page-turning pacing of a mystery while remaining solidly literary. Gwin’s writing is as precise as it is entertaining, and she creates unique rhythms for Dovey and Jo, giving each a distinct pulse. Their memories, supported by a great cast of nurses, neighbors and relatives, bring great richness to the story.

The aid available to the African-American community was obviously insufficient, and literally countless lives were lost for the sake of keeping segregation intact during immediate relief efforts. Humans may have the ability to overcome disaster, but as Gwin illustrates here, segregation neutralizes humanity.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews