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Glowby Jessica Maria Tuccelli
Synopses & Reviews
In the autumn of 1941, Amelia J. McGee, a young woman of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish descent, and an outspoken pamphleteer for the NAACP, hastily sends her daughter, Ella, alone on a bus home to Georgia in the middle of the night—a desperate measure that proves calamitous when the child encounters two drifters and is left for dead on the side of the road.
Ella awakens in the homestead of Willie Mae Cotton, a wise root doctor and former slave, and her partner, Mary-Mary Freeborn, tucked deep in the Takatoka Forest. As Ella heals, the secrets of her lineage are revealed.
Shot through with Cherokee lore and hoodoo conjuring, Glow transports us from Washington, D.C., on the brink of World War II to the Blue Ridge frontier of 1836, from the parlors of antebellum manses to the plantation kitchens where girls are raised by women who stand in as mothers. As the land with all its promise and turmoil passes from one generation to the next, Ella's ancestral home turns from safe haven to mayhem and back again.
Jessica Maria Tuccelli reveals deep insight into individual acts that can transform a community, and the ties that bind people together across immeasurable hardships and distances. Illuminating the tragedy of human frailty, the vitality of friendship and hope, and the fiercest of all bonds—mother love—the voices of Glow transcend their history with grace and splendor.
"In Tuccelli's sweeping debut, mothers and daughters are fiercely tethered over six generations and beyond death. The novel, which spans the years 1836—1941, follows the female descendants of pioneer Solomon Bounds, whose family tree is crowded with slave owners and slaves, Native Americans, and the soldiers who drove them from their lands. After the home she shares with her mother, Mia, is vandalized on the eve of a civil rights protest in Washington, D.C., the youngest of Bounds's kin, great-great-great-great-granddaughter Ella McGee, 11, journeys to her uncle's home in Hopewell, Ga. On the way, she gets lost and lands in the care of Willie Mae, an elderly mystic and the wife of Bounds's grandnephew. Meanwhile, Mia frantically searches for her daughter in Hopewell and finds a county whose rural idyll has been ravaged by the treacheries of slaveholders and the KKK. In intersecting narratives, Willa Mae, Mia, and Ella recount brutal traumas that gave them access to a magical spirit world of female ancestors. This elaborately woven plot serves the story well, peppering the novel with moments of lingering beauty and shocking violence. Though Tuccelli dances close to stereotypes of maternal piety, the complexity of her ghosts and her protagonists' folksy charm help stave off sentimentality. Agent: ICM. Publishers Weekly Copyright PW, LLC. All rights reserved.
"In Tuccelli’s sweeping debut, mothers and daughters are fiercely tethered over six generations and beyond death . . . [The] elaborately woven plot serves the story well, peppering the novel with moments of lingering beauty and shocking violence." —Publishers Weekly
"Full of historical detail and tinged with mysticism . . . Tuccelli’s novel brims with the love and fierce loyalty that bind [its] disparate generations together." —Deborah Donovan, Booklist
"With Glow, Jessica Maria Tuccelli has brought our Southern past to visceral and gorgeous life. Prepare to be drenched in the fierce humanity of her characters, bewitched by the powerful music of their voices and seared by the beauty and tragedy of their stories." —Hillary Jordan, author of When She Woke and Mudbound
"Glow is a beautifully wrought debut novel about magic, nature, history and the undying bonds of mother love. Jessica Maria Tuccelli is a remarkable new writer to watch." —Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot
"Glow is one of the strangest and most original first novels I've ever read—linguistically complex, vivid, and inventive. I can't think of another book even remotely like it, with the possible exception of Eudora Welty's The Robber Bridegroom. Jessica Maria Tuccelli takes enormous risks in her book, which pay off in subtle and interesting rewards. We'll be hearing a lot more about this writer." —Mark Childress, author of Georgia Bottoms and Crazy in Alabama
"Ms. Tuccelli has rendered a novel of such precise honesty that it casts its own bright incandescence upon its readers. The language is varied and musical throughout, and the characters as recognizable as one’s family. I will care about these people for years to come." —Mark Spragg, author of An Unfinished Life and Bone Fire
"The collage of voices that comprise Jessica Maria Tuccelli’s lovely Glow speak to us less of our national differences than of the great interweaving that is a constant in the American experience. Written with perfect pitch and impressive confidence, Glow is a debut novel of great craft, uncommonly sure storytelling and elegant narrative vision." —Dave King, author of The Ha-Ha
"As a nation we are haunted by certain histories, our past forever weighed down. Many manage to live without being much troubled by a nation’s sorry mistakes, but here is a novel about individuals profoundly, perilously affected by antebellum America, and how those lives reach forward, abide, as ‘haints,’ as miracles." —Michelle Latiolais, author of Widow and A Proper Knowledge
"In this powerful novel, Tuccelli masterfully handles the revolving first person, rendering each character distinct, individual and, always, believable. Race and history are never easy to write about, but she does it beautifully, making us care about these people and their own personal stories. This is a debut novel, but it reads like the work of a seasoned writer. I was enormously impressed. Glow belongs on the A list." —Steve Yarbrough, author of The End of California and Safe from the Neighbors
A breathtaking Georgia-mountain epic about the complex bond of mothers and daughters across a century.
In the autumn of 1941, Amelia J. McGee, a young woman of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish descent, and an outspoken pamphleteer for the NAACP, hastily sends her daughter, Ella, alone on a bus home to Georgia in the middle of the night-a desperate action that is met with dire consequences when the child encounters two drifters and is left for dead on the side of the road.
Ella awakens to find herself in the homestead of Willie Mae Cotton, a wise hoodoo practitioner and former slave, and her partner, Mary-Mary Freeborn, tucked deep in the Takatoka forest. As Ella begins to heal, the legacies of her lineage are revealed.
Glow transports us from Washington, D.C., on the brink of World War II to 1836 and into the mountain coves of Hopewell County, Georgia, full of ghosts both real and imagined. Illuminating the tragedy of human frailty, the power of friendship and hope, and the fiercest of all human bonds-mother love-this stunning debut will appeal to readers of both Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees and Amy Green's Bloodroot.
October 1941. Eleven-year-old Ella McGee sits on a bus bound for her Southern hometown. Behind her in Washington, D.C., lie the broken pieces of her parents love story—a black father drafted, an activist mother of Scotch-Irish and Cherokee descent confronting racist thugs. But Ellas journey is just beginning when she reaches Hopewell County, and her disappearance into the Georgia mountains will unfurl a rich tapestry of family secrets spanning a century. Told in five unforgettable voices, Glow reaches back through the generations, from the eve of World War II to the Blue Ridge frontier of 1836, where slave plantations adjoin the haunted glades of a razed Cherokee Nation. Out of these characters lives evolves a drama that is at once intimately human and majestic in its power to call upon the great themes of our time—race, identity, and the bonds of family and community.
Lushly conceived, cinematically detailed, and epic in historical scope, Glow announces an extraordinary new voice in Southern fiction.
About the Author
Jessica Maria Tuccelli is a graduate of MIT. She currently resides in New York City. Glow is her first novel.
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