Here’s what I brought to WBRC Fox 6 on April 2: Two of these books—one for adults and one for kids—are by local authors! Then there’s an important book about African-Americans and our country’s history and a moving novel about some brave young women set in India.
Glory Road, the new novel by Birmingham author Lauren K. Denton, is about Alabama and gardening and three generations of strong women. It’s also about healing and the possibility of new beginnings. Set in fictional Perry, Alabama, this is the story of Jessie McBride, who is one busy woman—keeping up with a teenage daughter; looking after her own feisty mother; and running her garden shop, Twig. (There’s lots of gardening wisdom planted in these pages.) Denton writes what she knows, drawing from her own experiences living in Mobile, where she was born and raised, and Homewood, where she’s raising her own family. This familiarity is evident throughout the book. “One of my favorite things about writing novels is including things I love in the hopes that readers will enjoy those same things. The story’s setting on Glory Road came from the actual red dirt road where my maternal grandparents lived for my entire childhood,” Denton says. “As a child, I loved how the dirt road made the place feel separated from the real world, and I knew I wanted these three women to enjoy that same peace and quiet.” Check out Denton’s other books, The Hideaway and Hurricane Season.
Ernestine’s Milky Way is written by Kerry Madden-Lunsford who directs the creative writing program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The lovely illustrations by Emily Sutton take readers into the beautiful Appalachian mountains and introduce readers to the people and animals living there. Five-year-old Ernestine has been given a special job to do: carry two jars of milk down the holler to Mrs. Ramsey and her children. The way is long and hard, but Ernestine is “a big girl” and she’s not too afraid of the critters she meets along the way. When she stumbles in her task she thinks she’s failed, but sometimes mistakes are blessings in disguise. Kerry is the author of several books for young readers including the Appalachian Maggie Valley trilogy: Gentle’s Holler, Louisiana’s Song and Jessie’s Mountain. This book takes place in that same Maggie Valley setting. Kerry wrote, and her daughter Lucy illustrated, a book about the beautiful friendship between author and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham and folk artist Charlie “Tin Man” Lucas called Nothing Fancy About Kathryn & Charlie.
American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World by Christina Proenza-Coles shines a light on some important historical facts. Most people relate the African-American experience in our country’s history to antebellum slavery and later the civil rights movement. But, in reality, Africans preceded the English by a century and arrived in the Americas in numbers that far exceeded European migrants up until 1820, and they played a comprehensive role in creating and shaping the country we know today. The author consulted hundreds of sources to collect stories of people of African descent who developed and defended New World settlements, undermined slavery and championed freedom for centuries before that happened in Selma and here in Birmingham. She shows how Africa-descended people contributed to American history as explorers, soldiers, lawyers, nurses, mathematicians, artists and artisans, translators, doctors, teachers, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, scholars and much more. This is an important book.
A People’s History of Heaven is a brand-new work of literary fiction by award-winning Indian-American writer Mathangi Subramanian, and it’s about geography as much as characters. Five girls—almost women—share an unbreakable bond even though they are quite different—Muslim, Christian and Hindu. They also all are marginalized people—living in tin shacks in a slum hidden between luxury high rises in Bangalore, India. When the government threatens to demolish their homes to build a shopping mall, the girls and their mothers (women also discarded by their husbands because they’ve produced no male heirs) refuse to go quietly. They wage war on the bulldozers sent to raze their homes and are fierce in their refusal to be ignored anymore.