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From the author of A Million Nightingales (“a writer of exceptional gifts and grace”—Joyce Carol Oates) comes a luminous new novel about the forces that tear families apart and the ties that bind them together.
Fantine Antoine is a travel writer, a profession that keeps her happily away from her Southern California home. When she returns to mark the fifth anniversary of the murder of her closest childhood friend, Glorette, she finds herself pulled into the tumultuous life of Glorette’s twenty-two-year-old son—and Fantine’s godson—Victor. After getting involved in a shooting, Victor has fled to New Orleans. Together with her father, Fantine follows Victor, determined to help him avoid the criminal future that he suddenly seems destined for. On this journey her father will reveal the wrenching secrets of his past, and Fantine will be compelled to question the most essential choices she’s made in her life.
"Layering the rich particulars of African American life into a classic tale of individual desires straining against collective constraints, Straight adds another complex, compassionate achievement to her distinguished body of work." —The Washington Post
"Using curt slang and patois, Straight nails the way poverty and degradation can make the members of a group of young men draw closer—and make them suspicious of even well-meaning outsiders." —The New York Times Book Review
"You've never seen writing like this about this part of Southern California—the parking lots and backyards, the dusty foliage no one bothers to name. Not only does she hope to illuminate the dusty corners, she wants to put this part of the country on the national literary map. Straight writes about the Paloma dump the way F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about Long Island. . . . We need writers like Straight to capture the sound of each new generation into perpetuity." —Los Angeles Times
“From National Book Award finalist Straight, a searing, ultimately redemptive novel about America’s legacy of racial violence and a woman’s struggle to forge her own identity . . . Deeply rooted in the African-American experience, yet filled with insights that resonate for anyone seeking to make a better life without disowning the past. Straight writes about the thorny subject of race with sensitivity and nuance.” —Kirkus (starred)
"In luscious prose, author Straight expertly captures the complexities of Fantine’s identity." —Booklist
"A vivid portrait of a mixed-race family, proud yet haunted by the vagaries of the past, and of a woman and a boy trying to bridge two worlds. This is also a novel about the importance of words. Straight beautifully blends the rhythmic cadence of the Creole patois with the down-and-dirty slang of the street. With its compelling story, menacing atmosphere, and exquisite use of language, this book has something to intrigue most readers." —Library Journal