A displaced African-American woman and her estranged mother rediscover their heritage and each other en route to a family reunion in rural Georgia.
With a fine new man and baby on the way, free spirit Sherry feels her life is finally on track, but she also realizes she cannot move forward without facing certain events from her past, including an inexplicable moment of violence in her childhood that distanced her from her mother Clementine “Dumpling” Jackson. With reconciliation and resolution on her mind, Sherry convinces her mother to drive with her to their ancestral home of Sandersville, Ga., to attend a family reunion. Along the way, Sherry questions her mother about their shared ancestry in the hopes of writing a family history. The story then shifts to Sherry's imagined version of that history, beginning with her Yamasee Indian great-grandmother Lou, who was abducted in childhood and sold into slavery. The resilient Lou has three children with fellow slave Buena Vista, all the while facing one harrowing experience after another. After the Civil War, and unaware that slavery has ended, Lou’s children Jeff and Suce take over their cotton plantation from their weakened master and participate in several brutal (and perhaps justifiable) acts that foreshadow much of the family’s tragedy for generations to come. Dealing with murder, rape and incest, this often grim tale is lightened considerably by a no-nonsense running commentary from the lovably flawed Dumpling, who thinks the past should be let go. Well paced, with excellent dialogue, Sherry’s story-within-a-story is sometimes hampered by southern gothic clichés.
Assured and engrossing tale of survival and forgiveness.