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In West Mills
by De'shawn Charles Winslow




Overview -

A bighearted novel about family, migration, and the unbearable difficulties of love. Here's a cast of characters you won't soon forget. Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Winslow's impressive debut novel introduces readers to both a flawed, fascinating character in fiction and a wonderful new voice in literature. Real Simple, Best Books of 2019

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Winner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Named a Most Anticipated Novel by
TIME MAGAZINE * USA TODAY * ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY * NYLON * SOUTHERN LIVING * THE LOS ANGELES TIMES * ESSENCE * THE MILLIONS * REAL SIMPLE* HUFFINGTON POST * BUZZFEED

Let the people of West Mills say what they will about Azalea "Knot" Centre; they won't keep her from what she loves best: cheap moonshine, nineteenth-century literature, and the company of men. And yet, when motherhood looms, Knot begins to learn that her freedom has come at a high price. Low on money, ostracized from her parents and cut off from her hometown, Knot turns to her neighbor, Otis Lee Loving, in search of some semblance of family and home.

Otis Lee is eager to help. A lifelong fixer, Otis Lee is determined to steer his friends and family away from decisions that will cause them heartache and ridicule. After his failed attempt to help his older sister, who lives a precarious life in the North, Otis Lee discovers a possible path to redemption in the chaos Knot brings to his doorstep. But while he's busy trying to fix Knot's life, Otis Lee finds himself powerless to repair the many troubles within his own family, as the long-buried secrets of his troubled past begin to come to light.

Spanning decades in a rural North Carolina town where a canal acts as the color line, In West Mills is a magnificent, big-hearted small-town story about family, friendship, storytelling, and the redemptive power of love.

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More About In West Mills by De'shawn Charles Winslow

 
 
 

Overview

A bighearted novel about family, migration, and the unbearable difficulties of love. Here's a cast of characters you won't soon forget. Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Winslow's impressive debut novel introduces readers to both a flawed, fascinating character in fiction and a wonderful new voice in literature. Real Simple, Best Books of 2019

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Winner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Named a Most Anticipated Novel by
TIME MAGAZINE * USA TODAY * ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY * NYLON * SOUTHERN LIVING * THE LOS ANGELES TIMES * ESSENCE * THE MILLIONS * REAL SIMPLE* HUFFINGTON POST * BUZZFEED

Let the people of West Mills say what they will about Azalea "Knot" Centre; they won't keep her from what she loves best: cheap moonshine, nineteenth-century literature, and the company of men. And yet, when motherhood looms, Knot begins to learn that her freedom has come at a high price. Low on money, ostracized from her parents and cut off from her hometown, Knot turns to her neighbor, Otis Lee Loving, in search of some semblance of family and home.

Otis Lee is eager to help. A lifelong fixer, Otis Lee is determined to steer his friends and family away from decisions that will cause them heartache and ridicule. After his failed attempt to help his older sister, who lives a precarious life in the North, Otis Lee discovers a possible path to redemption in the chaos Knot brings to his doorstep. But while he's busy trying to fix Knot's life, Otis Lee finds himself powerless to repair the many troubles within his own family, as the long-buried secrets of his troubled past begin to come to light.

Spanning decades in a rural North Carolina town where a canal acts as the color line, In West Mills is a magnificent, big-hearted small-town story about family, friendship, storytelling, and the redemptive power of love.


 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781635573404
  • ISBN-10: 1635573408
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Publish Date: June 2019
  • Page Count: 272
  • Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

In West Mills

Residents of West Mills, North Carolina, joke that their town never changes. Yet there’s never a dull moment for the stubborn, loyal characters in De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s debut novel, In West Mills.

The novel opens in 1941 with a fight between main character Azalea “Knot” Centre and her man, Pratt. When Pratt enlists for the war, Knot’s neighbor Otis Lee looks after her and keeps her company. He chides her for her obsessive drinking and reading. In turn, she scolds him for his rift with a mutual friend, Valley. And so it goes, friends becoming family until the town includes three generations of fierce fighters and lovers.

Reminiscent of August Wilson’s 10-play cycle marking each decade in 20th-century African-American history, In West Mills telescopes four decades into a densely packed drama surrounding Knot, a woman full of passion and pathos, an object of both hate and love. Knot is nicknamed as a girl for balling up her little body around ceramic “whatnots” stolen from her mother. Other West Mills inhabitants’ nicknames include Pep, Breezy and Goldie, showing how these neighbors claim one another as their own. As the novel progresses, the story becomes less about Knot and more about how the whole town handles its woes, and the story’s central figure becomes a tightly wound web of lies, secrecy and forgiveness.

Characters deal with inflamed emotions, gender and race roles, sexual preferences, addiction and children born out of wedlock—the stuff of the soap operas Knot and friends watch every day on their new televisions. What distinguishes West Mills’ melodrama from episodic TV, however, is the real-life, unglamorous attitudes of ordinary people. Amid their squabbles, they work hard as farmers, cleaners, midwives, teachers and musicians. They eschew happy endings but stick with each other despite their differences.

In West Mills exemplifies the timeless adage that it takes a village to raise one another. This is a historical fiction triumph.

 

BAM Customer Reviews