With such an awesome title and cover I was immediately interested in getting my hands on this novel. The description was intriguing.
” The Mothers meets An American Marriage in this dazzling debut novel about mothers and daughters, identity and family, and how the relationships that sustain you can also be the ones that consume you.”
We first meet Althea. Althea is telling us what jail is like. She says it’s a place where you definitely do a lot of thinking. She lives in a cell that is the size of her walk-in closet at home. Althea often compares what she’s done to other inmate’s crimes so she can say “at least I didn’t do THAT”. The Chaplain tells her that no good can come from comparing. The Chaplain also said her crime does not have to define who she is.
Who am I?
Althea never thought she’d leave her home in New River Junction. She had made promises that kept her there. But she’s been moving further away since that fateful day two years earlier. The day the police came. At first Althea and her husband, Proctor thought the men were there for lunch. But they were there as cops, not customers.
They didn’t know that day had started with a phone call that would change everything. The caller was someone no one would have ever expected…especially Althea.
NOW…Althea and Proctor await their fate.
Althea isn’t the only one wondering who she is. Other members of the family wonder the same about themselves.
When Lillian moved home years earlier she would never have guessed she’d end up where she is now. She wishes her sister, Viola would step in to help out with the girls. Lillian is trying her best but feels she’s getting it wrong. Plus she’s found this has brought up things from the past, things that she (and some of the other members of the family) would prefer to forget.
Will she be able to confront the past?
Viola lives in Chicago but has come back to help out with Kim and Baby Vi. But Viola is also struggling. She is trying to deal with everything going on in the family as well as her own health and well-being.
The Butler family has had their struggles but over the years became one of the most respected families in town. But nothing prepares the family for the night Althea and Proctor are arrested. And just when they think things can’t get any worse? They do. Will the family get it together enough to help not just Althea’s children but themselves too?
I enjoyed this story. However, I did have a hard time getting into it at first. It felt like there were a lot of characters and I was finding it difficult keeping everyone straight. However, I am glad that I stuck with it as I really found my groove around the halfway mark.
The story is told with the sister’s alternating points of view and includes letters Althea and Proctor write each other while in jail. We learn a lot about this family and their struggles. I thought the author did a good job of bringing many issues to light. The story shows what can happen when anger and jealousy take over. We see the very different ways in which the characters upbringing and early experiences helped define them and stayed with them throughout their lives.
Overall, I thought this was a good debut novel. An interesting story about longing, hunger (the many kinds), secrets, guilt, family, loyalty, and much more.
I’m excited to see what Anissa Gray writes next.
I’d like to thank Berkley Publishing for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel.