The Twelve-Mile Straight

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From New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Henderson, an audacious American epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.

Cotton County, Georgia, 1930: in a house full of secrets, two babies-one light-skinned, the other dark-are born to Elma Jesup, a white sharecropper’s daughter. Accused of her rape, field hand Genus Jackson is lynched and dragged behind a truck down the Twelve-Mile Straight, the road to the nearby town. In the aftermath, the farm’s inhabitants are forced to contend with their complicity in a series of events that left a man dead and a family irrevocably fractured.

Despite the prying eyes and curious whispers of the townspeople, Elma begins to raise her babies as best as she can, under the roof of her mercurial father, Juke, and with the help of Nan, the young black housekeeper who is as close to Elma as a sister. But soon it becomes clear that the ties that bind all of them together are more intricate than any could have ever imagined. As startling revelations mount, a web of lies begins to collapse around the family, destabilizing their precarious world and forcing all to reckon with the painful truth.

Acclaimed author Eleanor Henderson has returned with a novel that combines the intimacy of a family drama with the staggering presence of a great Southern saga. Tackling themes of racialized violence, social division, and financial crisis, The Twelve-Mile Straight is a startlingly timely, emotionally resonant, and magnificent tour de force.

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About the author

Eleanor Henderson was born in Greece, grew up in Florida, and attended Middlebury College and the University of Virginia. Her debut novel, Ten Thousand Saints, was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2011 by the New York Times and a finalist for the Award for First Fiction from the Los Angeles Times and was adapted into a film in 2015. An associate professor at Ithaca College, she lives in Ithaca, New York, with her husband and two sons.

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Additional Information

Publisher
HarperCollins
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Published on
Sep 12, 2017
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Pages
560
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ISBN
9780062422101
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Historical / General
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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From the author of Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse and The Cape Ann comes a new tale of resilient womanhood in Harvester, Minnesota.

Growing up in early twentieth-century Illinois, Ruby Drake is a happy child. But one winter’s night, her beloved parents perish in an accident—and suddenly Ruby finds herself penniless and nearly alone in the world. Her new path eventually takes her to Harvester, where she is lucky enough to find work on the welcoming Schoonover farm. Kind Emma, forward-thinking Henry, and their hired men—ambitious Dennis and reserved Jake—soon become a second family to the orphaned teenager.

At a historical moment when young women are expected to be focused on courtship and marriage, the industrious, bright Ruby searches for opportunities to expand her horizons at every step. Mastering her responsibilities on the farm. Learning to smoke cigarettes. Borrowing books from the local lending library, reading devotedly and expansively: mythology, romance, poetry. And falling in love with her married neighbor, Roland: “the most beautiful man—maybe in the world.” But when Ruby is asked to care for Roland’s wife in the wake of tragedy, she is torn between duty and passion, between what has been her lot and what could be.

Jane Eyre set in Faith Sullivan’s “reliably inviting world” (Wall Street Journal), Ruby & Roland is a story of relationships—friendship, romance, and the families we are born with and create—and of one woman’s journey of selfhood on the prairie.
With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality---the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy—an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.

Thirty acclaimed writers share their personal birth stories—the extraordinary, the ordinary, the terrifying, the sublime, the profane

It's an elemental, almost animalistic urge—the expectant mother's hunger for birth narratives. Bookstores are filled with month-by-month pregnancy manuals, but the shelves are virtually empty of artful, entertaining, unvarnished accounts of labor and delivery—the stories that new mothers need most.
Here is a book that transcends the limits of how-to guides and honors the act of childbirth in the twenty-first century. Eleanor Henderson and Anna Solomon have gathered true birth stories by women who have made self-expression their business, including Cheryl Strayed, Julia Glass, Lauren Groff, Dani Shapiro, and many other luminaries.
In Labor Day, you'll read about women determined to give birth naturally and others begging for epidurals; women who pushed for hours and women whose labors were over practically before they'd started; women giving birth to twins and to ten-pound babies. These women give birth in the hospital, at home, in bathtubs, and, yes, even in the car. Some revel in labor, some fear labor, some feel defeated by labor, some are fulfilled by it—and all are amazed by it. You will laugh, weep, squirm, perhaps groan in recognition, and undoubtedly gasp with surprise. And then you'll call every mother or mother-to-be that you know and say "You MUST read Labor Day."

Contributors:

Nuar Alsadir

Amy Brill

Susan Burton

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

Lan Samantha Chang

Phoebe Damrosch

Claire Dederer

Jennifer Gilmore

Julia Glass

Arielle Greenberg

Lauren Groff

Eleanor Henderson

Cristina Henriquez

Amy Herzog

Ann Hood

Sarah Jefferis

Heidi Julavits

Mary Beth Keane

Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Edan Lepucki

Heidi Pitlor

Joanna Rakoff

Jane Roper

Danzy Senna

Dani Shapiro

Anna Solomon

Cheryl Strayed

Sarah A. Strickley

Rachel Jamison Webster

Gina Zucker

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