The River Beyond the World: A Novel

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A National Book Award Finalist for Fiction

Set in the Texas/Mexico border country in the years from 1944 to the present, The River Beyond the World is the story of two women on the edge of sexual, moral, political, and spiritual divides. Luisa Cantú is a girl from a Sierra Madre mountain village. After being impregnated in a fertility ritual of ancient origin, she leaves Mexico to work in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas as a housemaid for Mrs. Eddie Hatch, a woman with a strong will and a narrow worldview. Their complex relationship—by turns mystical and pragmatic, serious and comic—reveals the many ways human beings can wound one another, the nature of love and sacrifice, and the possibility of forgiveness.

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About the author

Janet Peery is the author of the collection Alligator Dance, and her stories have been widely published. In addition to being a National Book Award Finalist, she has received an NEA Fellowship, the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Whiting Foundation Writer's Award, and her stories have been twice cited in Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize XVI and XVII. She lives in Norfolk, Virginia.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Picador
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Published on
May 5, 2015
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781250083791
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Janet Peery
What the Thunder Said is the 2008 winner of the WILLA Literary Award for Contemporary Fiction.

In the Dust Bowl of 1930s Oklahoma, a family comes apart, as sisters Mackie and Etta Spoon keep secrets from their father, and from each other.

Etta, the dangerously impulsive favorite of her father, longs for adventure someplace far away from the bleak and near-barren plains, and she doesn't care how she gets there; watchful Mackie keeps house and obeys the letter of her father's law, while harboring her own dreams. After the massive 1935 Black Sunday dust storm brings ruin to the family, the sisters' conflict threatens further damage. Seeking escape, and wagering their futures on an Indian boarding school runaway named Audie Kipp, the two leave home to forge their own separate paths, each setting off in search of a new life, each finding a fate different than she expected.

Through shifting perspectives, voices, and characters, What the Thunder Said tracks their wayward progress, following the sisters, their children, and those whose stories intersect with theirs as they range across the high plains of the West in the decades after the Great Depression. Etta's hitchhiking encounter with a bookish couple in the Garden of the Gods; a prairie jackrabbit drive, during which Mackie's son, Jesse, discovers the cloth he's cut from; an old man's failing memory as he tells of spying on an Indian loner on the outskirts of a Kansas town; a middle-aged doctor's chance meeting with a mysterious wayfarer while on a quest to New Mexico in search of his lost youth; and Mackie's late reconciliation with her aged father, whose habit of silence has bred her own---all are rendered in vivid prose that captures the plains and the people who endured devastation and lived to look back on it.
Slow-gathering, powerful, with passages of haunting beauty, What the Thunder Said is the long-awaited third work of fiction by one of our most acclaimed storytellers.

Lisa Wingate
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a “thought-provoking [and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart . . . based on a notorious true-life scandal.”*

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

*Library Journal


Praise for Before We Were Yours

“A [story] of a family lost and found . . . a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets.” —People

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.” —Parade

“One of the year’s best books . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near-perfect novel.” —The Huffington Post

“Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Circling the Sun
Janet Peery
What the Thunder Said is the 2008 winner of the WILLA Literary Award for Contemporary Fiction.

In the Dust Bowl of 1930s Oklahoma, a family comes apart, as sisters Mackie and Etta Spoon keep secrets from their father, and from each other.

Etta, the dangerously impulsive favorite of her father, longs for adventure someplace far away from the bleak and near-barren plains, and she doesn't care how she gets there; watchful Mackie keeps house and obeys the letter of her father's law, while harboring her own dreams. After the massive 1935 Black Sunday dust storm brings ruin to the family, the sisters' conflict threatens further damage. Seeking escape, and wagering their futures on an Indian boarding school runaway named Audie Kipp, the two leave home to forge their own separate paths, each setting off in search of a new life, each finding a fate different than she expected.

Through shifting perspectives, voices, and characters, What the Thunder Said tracks their wayward progress, following the sisters, their children, and those whose stories intersect with theirs as they range across the high plains of the West in the decades after the Great Depression. Etta's hitchhiking encounter with a bookish couple in the Garden of the Gods; a prairie jackrabbit drive, during which Mackie's son, Jesse, discovers the cloth he's cut from; an old man's failing memory as he tells of spying on an Indian loner on the outskirts of a Kansas town; a middle-aged doctor's chance meeting with a mysterious wayfarer while on a quest to New Mexico in search of his lost youth; and Mackie's late reconciliation with her aged father, whose habit of silence has bred her own---all are rendered in vivid prose that captures the plains and the people who endured devastation and lived to look back on it.
Slow-gathering, powerful, with passages of haunting beauty, What the Thunder Said is the long-awaited third work of fiction by one of our most acclaimed storytellers.

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