I really like Bernice McFadden novels. I have been able to access three of them now via audiobook and it’s been a pleasure to hear her writing read by especially gifted readers. In this novel, we have multiple storylines being advanced simultaneously through the book as we have a cross-country trip between a woman around 30 and her mother, while the woman, a writer has recently found out she is pregnant (the father is white) and among other things she is planning on driving her mother across the country.
While on the trip she and her mother discuss her mother’s childhood, while she weaves the family myths into a novel. These three times — the prewar South under slavery, the story of her parents’ parents, and the car trip all combine together to tell one story moving across the country and also moving forward in time.
There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the stories families tell about their history and how those stories often involve a lot of myth and history interwoven together and this book looks closely at that process, as well as the ways in which family histories of violence, sexuality, sexual violence, friendships, bonds, and race all interplay within that shared history and myth-making. That we’re reading a novel and also watching a novel be written and then reading that novel work together to make this an interesting (if a little confusing at times in the various uncoupling of the timelines) and heartbreaking book.