As she washes her laundry in the river, Kelithe is startled from her daydreams by the sound of women screaming. It is not until she sees a small body in the shallow water that she realizes what has happened. Her young son, Timothy, has drowned in the Rio Minho.
The women of Standfast, Jamaica, whisper that she stood and watched Timothy die so that she could seize her chance to join her mother in America. Numb with grief, Kelithe lacks the strength to confront them. She can only wait for the funeral. And for her mother to come stand by her at last.
It is into this cauldron of guilt, grief, and suspicion that Sonya returns to bury the grandson she has never seen. Fifteen years ago, promising to send for her five-year-old daughter "soon, soon," Sonya set off for America. Year after year, she struggled to get settled enough to do right by Kelithe. But even as Sonya married and had a second daughter, Kelithe grew to womanhood under her grandmother's care, found fleeting love in a stranger's arms, and had a shame-filled pregnancy of her own. And when Sonya was finally ready, there was room only for Kelithe. Timothy would have to stay behind. Kelithe would have to abandon him as she herself had been abandoned. But Sonya would send for him "soon, soon."
What really happened at the Rio Minho? It is a question Sonya cannot ask, and an accusation Kelithe will not answer. And it lies at the heart of this shattering novel. In spare, powerful prose, Donna Hemans lays barethe human heart, and the many facets of truth.
About Donna HemansSee more books from this Author
Then the rumors start that Kelithe watched her son as he went under, seeing it as the way to escape from rural, impoverished Standfast to New York, where her mother went when Kelithe was five, promising “soon-soon” to send for her.| Read Full Review of River Woman: A Novel
Kelithe's own motherhood is haunted by her absent mother, Sonya, who immigrates to the United States when Kelithe is just a child.| Read Full Review of River Woman: A Novel
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