Tumbling by Diane McKinney-Whetstone

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In this deeply textured debut novel, the feel and rhythm of a close-knit African-American community is evoked. Set in South Philadelphia during the 1940s and 1950s, Tumbling combines the mood of an urban community with the vitality of its inhabitants to tell a story in which sorrow and joy come in equal measure.

At the heart of the story is Herbie and Noon, who care deeply for each other but have been unable to consummate their marriage because of a vicious sexual attack in Noon's past. While Noon finds comfort and solace in her church, club-hopping Herbie finds friendship and sexual gratification with jazz singer named Ethel.

Herbie and Noon are blessed with daughters when, on two separate occasions, children are left on their doorstep. On the advice of the community, they take the children into their home, where the girls become inseparable, as if blood sisters.

When a devastating city proposal threatens to put a road through the area, the community must pull together to avoid being pulled apart. Noon becomes the unexpected leader in the struggle to keep both her home and her family whole.


About Diane McKinney-Whetstone

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Diane McKinney-Whetstone is the author of five acclaimed novels and the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Library Association's Black Caucus Literary Award for Fiction, which she won twice. She teaches fiction writing at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Greg.
Published April 15, 1996 by William Morrow. 340 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Tumbling

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A gifted prose writer with a tremendous sense of place, McKinney-Whetstone shows the potential here to move up the ranks of novelists currently exploring the African-American experience.

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Publishers Weekly

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When newborn Fannie and, five years later, Ethel's five-year-old orphan niece, Liz, are abandoned on Noon and Herbie's doorstep, the embrace of community allows the creation of a family.

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