This Bitter Earth

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In This Bitter Earth, Sugar Lacey is on her way out of Bigelow, Arkansas, where she’d come to break with the past. With her worn leopard-print suitcase and her head held high, she walks past the prying eyes of its small-minded, cruel-hearted townsfolk, praying for the strength to keep going. She doesn’t stop until she arrives at her childhood home in Short Junction.  Here she learns the truth about her parentage: a terrible tale of unrequited love, of one man’s enduring hatred, and of the black magic that has cursed generations of Lacey women.  A powerfully realized novel that brings back the unforgettable characters from Sugar, McFadden’s bestselling debut, This Bitter Earth is a testament to the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.
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About the author

Bernice L. McFadden is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels including SugarLoving DonovanNowhere Is a PlaceThe Warmest DecemberGathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors' Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a three-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of three awards from the BCALA. McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Dec 31, 2002
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781101153901
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / African American / Women
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Small Town & Rural
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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“Nowhere Is a Place is a powerful portrait of family secrets, damage, and healing, probing deep below the surface of an African American family’s history to mend present day relationships . . . Ms. McFadden has a beautiful writing style that is simultaneously lyrical and transparent. In parts of the narrative, time seems to stand still as she describes an event in riveting minute to minute detail. Other times she employs a kind of poetic shorthand that condenses long periods of time, years even, into a few sentences.”
--New York Journal of Books

"An engrossing multigenerational saga . . . With her deep engagement in the material and her brisk but lyrical prose, McFadden creates a poignant epic of resiliency, bringing Sherry to a well-earned awareness of her place atop the shoulders of her ancestors, those who survived so that she might one day, too."
--Publishers Weekly

"Telling her story from two perspectives and on two levels--the mother-daughter relationship and Sherry's fictional account--McFadden brings added texture to this story of reconciliation."
--Booklist

“A poignant tale of self-discovery in the face of a complicated family history.”
--Brooklyn Daily Eagle

"Bernice L. McFadden’s Nowhere Is a Place is a hauntingly-disturbing and redemptive frame story of many generations of a Yamasee Native-American and African-American family from pre-slavery times until July 1995."
--Bowling Green Daily News

"With a good dose of poignancy about life and finding the wisdom of the world for ourselves, Nowhere is a Place is a fine addition to modern literary fiction collections."
--The Midwest Book Review

"Compelling, beautifully written, and profoundly human, McFadden has conjured a tale of a fractured family who journey across the country and back through history to unearth painful truths that unexpectedly reshape their relationships with each other."
--Lynn Nottage, playwright, author of Intimate Apparel

Nothing can mend a broken heart quite like family. Sherry has struggled all her life to understand who she is, where she comes from, and, most important, why her mother slapped her cheek one summer afternoon. The incident has haunted Sherry, and it causes her to dig into her family's past. Like many family histories, it is fractured and stubbornly reluctant to reveal its secrets; but Sherry is determined to know the full story. In just a few days' time, her extended family will gather for a reunion, and Sherry sets off across the country with her mother, Dumpling, to join them. What Sherry and Dumpling find on their trip is far more important than scenic sites here and there--it is the assorted pieces of their family's past. Pulled together, they reveal a history of amazing survival and abundant joy.

Bernice L. McFadden is the author of eight critically acclaimed novels including the classic Sugar, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors' Choice), and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a two-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of two fiction honor awards from the BCALA. Her sophomore novel, The Warmest December, was praised by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison as "searing and expertly imagined." McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York.
One of Essence's Best Books of the Decade!

A New York Times Notable Book of 2012!

Gathering of Waters is a finalist for a Phillis Wheatley Fiction Book Award!

Gathering of Waters was named a finalist for a 2013 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award!

Gathering of Waters has been selected as a Go On Girl! April 2013 Book Pick.

"McFadden works a kind of miracle--not only do [her characters] retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises...Beautiful and evocative, Gathering of Waters brings three generations to life...The real power of the narrative lies in the richness and complexity of the characters. While they inhabit these pages they live, and they do so gloriously and messily and magically, so that we are at last sorry to see them go, and we sit with those small moments we had with them and worry over them, enchanted, until they become something like our own memories, dimmed by time, but alive with the ghosts of the past, and burning with spirits."
--Jesmyn Ward, New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice

"Read it aloud. Hire a chorus to chant it to you and anyone else interested in hearing about civil rights and uncivil desires, about the dark heat of hate, about the force of forgiveness."
--Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, NPR

"McFadden combines events of Biblical proportions--from flooding to resurrection--with history to create a cautionary, redemptive tale that spans the early twentieth century to the start of Hurricane Katrina. She compellingly invites readers to consider the distinctions between 'truth or fantasy'...In McFadden's boldly spun yarn, consequences extend across time and place. This is an arresting historical portrait of Southern life with reimagined outcomes, suggesting that hope in the enduring power of memory can offer healing where justice does not suffice."
--Publishers Weekly

"The rich text is shaped by the African American storytelling tradition and layered with significant American histories. Recalling the woven spirituality of Toni Morrison's Beloved, this work will appeal to readers of mystic literature."
--Library Journal

"McFadden makes powerful use of imagery in this fantastical novel of ever-flowing waters and troubled spirits."
--Booklist

"In this fierce reimagining, the actual town of Money, MS narrates the story about the ghost of Emmett Till and his from-the-other-side reunification with the girl he loved as a child in Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden."
--Ebony Magazine

Gathering of Waters is a deeply engrossing tale narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi--a site both significant and infamous in our collective story as a nation. Money is personified in this haunting story, which chronicles its troubled history following the arrival of the Hilson and Bryant families.

Tass Hilson and Emmett Till were young and in love when Emmett was brutally murdered in 1955. Anxious to escape the town, Tass marries Maximillian May and relocates to Detroit.

Forty years later, after the death of her husband, Tass returns to Money and fantasy takes flesh when Emmett Till's spirit is finally released from the dank, dark waters of the Tallahatchie River. The two lovers are reunited, bringing the story to an enchanting and profound conclusion.

Gathering of Waters mines the truth about Money, Mississippi, as well as the town's families, and threads their history over decades. The bare-bones realism--both disturbing and riveting--combined with a magical realm in which ghosts have the final say, is reminiscent of Toni Morrison's Beloved.

"Bernice L. McFadden is one of the best contemporary literary writers out there today...Her brilliance, her talent as a novelist, is the very life she breathes into all of her characters."
--Terry McMillan, from the Introduction

"Bernice L. McFadden was one of the best writers to emerge in the post-Waiting to Exhale explosion that introduced at least a dozen Black female novelists. Loving Donovan has generated near-cult status among readers. After more than a decade since it appeared, Donovan is being reissued. How fitting that Terry McMillan has written a new introduction. If you've read Donovan before, you will fall in love all over again. And if this is your first time, prepare yourself for an intense romance between an enigmatic antihero and a heroine who will feel like your homegirl."
--Essence Magazine

"Loving Donovan is brilliant. By exploring the depth of her characters, the novel transforms what, on the surface, may appear to be the run-of-the-mill, paperback sentimental, tear-jerking coupling, into an understanding, unflinching, expertly told tale of human nature."
--AALBC

One of Library Journal's 25 Key Indie Fiction Titles for Fall 2014-Winter 2015!

"A two-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist also twice honored by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, McFadden presents a love story starring Campbell and Donovan--both from shattered homes, both still hopeful, and both shaped more by history than they can imagine. Don't miss."
--Library Journal Prepub Alert

"Loving Donovan firmly establishes McFadden among the ranks of those few writers of whom you constantly beg for more."
--Black Issues Book Review

"McFadden is clearly adept in keeping the reader entertained, captivated, and on our toes to try to figure out what's going to happen next. The rich characters, life situations, and language all wrapped up in such a small book and saying so much is a feat."
--Brown Girl Reading

Praise for Bernice L. McFadden:

"McFadden works a kind of miracle--not only do her characters retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises."
--New York Times, on Gathering of Waters

"Searing and expertly imagined."
--Toni Morrison, on The Warmest December

With a new introduction by Terry McMillan.

The first section of McFadden's unconventional love story belongs to Campbell. Despite being born to a brokenhearted mother and a faithless father, Campbell still believes in the power of love...if she can ever find it. Living in the same neighborhood, but unknown to Campbell until a chance meeting brings them together, is Donovan, the "little man" of a shattered home--a family torn apart by anger and bitterness.

In the face of daunting obstacles, Donovan dreams of someday marrying, raising a family, and playing in the NBA. But deep inside, Campbell and Donovan live with the histories that have shaped their lives. What they discover--together and apart--forms the basis of this compelling, sensual, and surprising novel.
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