The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

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Strong medicine, not always easy to swallow, but readers who like a challenge will relish this gifted writer’s ambition and grit.


From New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Henderson, an audacious American epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.

Cotton County, Georgia, 1930: in a house full of secrets, two babies-one light-skinned, the other dark-are born to Elma Jesup, a white sharecropper’s daughter. Accused of her rape, field hand Genus Jackson is lynched and dragged behind a truck down the Twelve-Mile Straight, the road to the nearby town. In the aftermath, the farm’s inhabitants are forced to contend with their complicity in a series of events that left a man dead and a family irrevocably fractured.

Despite the prying eyes and curious whispers of the townspeople, Elma begins to raise her babies as best as she can, under the roof of her mercurial father, Juke, and with the help of Nan, the young black housekeeper who is as close to Elma as a sister. But soon it becomes clear that the ties that bind all of them together are more intricate than any could have ever imagined. As startling revelations mount, a web of lies begins to collapse around the family, destabilizing their precarious world and forcing all to reckon with the painful truth.

Acclaimed author Eleanor Henderson has returned with a novel that combines the intimacy of a family drama with the staggering presence of a great Southern saga. Tackling themes of racialized violence, social division, and financial crisis, The Twelve-Mile Straight is a startlingly timely, emotionally resonant, and magnificent tour de force.


About Eleanor Henderson

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Eleanor Henderson earned her MFA from the University of Virginia in 2005. Her story "The Farms" was selected by Alice Sebold for The Best American Short Stories 2009. Henderson's fiction has also appeared in Agni, North American Review, Ninth Letter, and Columbia, among other publications. Her nonfiction has appeared in Poets & Writers, where she was a contributing editor, and Virginia Quarterly Review, where she was the chair of the fiction board. An assistant professor at Ithaca College, she lives in Ithaca, New York.
Published September 12, 2017 by Ecco. 560 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Parenting & Relationships. Fiction
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on Jun 20 2017

Strong medicine, not always easy to swallow, but readers who like a challenge will relish this gifted writer’s ambition and grit.

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