“Rita Williams-Garcia immerses the reader in pre-Civil War life in Louisiana, making it impossible to ignore all the different ways that white people of all social classes exerted their power over enslaved people. Williams-Garcia explores the ties between France, the United States and Haiti, the complex position of descendants of both the enslaved and the slave owners and the ways that white people justified their atrocities. The author's note and other back matter go into detail about the research and writing process and add more layers to the narrative. A book that will stay with you long after you finish the final page.”
— Cecilia Cackley, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC
Winner of the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award!
7 starred reviews! "Monumental." —Booklist (starred review) * "A marathon masterpiece."—Kirkus (starred review) * "Necessary."—SLJ (starred review) * "Shocking and dramatic."—Shelf Awareness (starred review) * "Mesmerizing, confounding and vividly rendered."—Book Page (starred review) * "Williams-Garcia’s storytelling is magnificent; her voice honest and authentic."—Horn Book (starred review)
This astonishing novel from three-time National Book Award finalist Rita Williams-Garcia about the interwoven lives of those bound to a plantation in antebellum America is an epic masterwork—empathetic, brutal, and entirely human—and essential reading for both teens and adults grappling with the long history of American racism.
1860, Louisiana. After serving as mistress of Le Petit Cottage for more than six decades, Madame Sylvie Guilbert has decided, in spite of her family’s objections, to sit for a portrait.
While Madame plots her last hurrah, stories that span generations—from the big house to out in the fields—of routine horrors, secrets buried as deep as the family fortune, and the tangled bonds of descendants and enslaved, come to light to reveal a true portrait of the Guilberts.
Rita Williams-Garcia's Newbery Honor Book, One Crazy Summer, was a winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award, a National Book Award finalist, the recipient of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and a New York Times bestseller. The two sequels, P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama, were both Coretta Scott King Author Award winners and ALA Notable Children’s Books. Her novel Clayton Byrd Goes Underground was a National Book Award finalist and winner of the NAACP Image Award for Youth/Teen Literature. Rita is also the author of five other distinguished novels for young adults: Jumped, a National Book Award finalist; No Laughter Here, Every Time a Rainbow Dies (a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book), Fast Talk on a Slow Track (all ALA Best Books for Young Adults); and Blue Tights. Rita Williams-Garcia lives in Jamaica, New York, with her husband and has two adult daughters. You can visit her online at www.ritawg.com.