Knee-Deep in Wonder by April Reynolds
A Novel

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Synopsis

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.
 

About April Reynolds

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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 Knee Deep in Wonder, her first novel, received a Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Award for unpublished work.
 
Published January 1, 2003 by Henry Holt. 320 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Then Liberty’s story is connected to that of Chester “Chess” Hubbert, the son of Mississippi tenant farmers victimized by the flooding of hastily constructed levees: a rootless, sexually confused charmer whose vertiginous careening from one woman to another eventually involved him with both Liber...

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Publishers Weekly

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"Children grow crooked when they live in a house that's unnatural," Queen Ester tells her grown, estranged daughter, Helene Strickland.

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Entertainment Weekly

Originally posted Sep 12, 2003 Published in issue #727-728 Sep 12, 2003 Order article reprints

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