SOLEMN by Kalisha Buckhanon


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In the still of the night, a young girl sees a man, who seems familiar, carelessly toss a baby down a well.

The poor African-American community that calls Singer’s Trailer Park in Bledsoe, Mississippi, home shuns the well. Although they know Gilroy Hassle murdered the child, no one is surprised when he gets a slap on the wrist rather than a murder charge. After all, black families don’t matter much to the local police force. They haven’t much respect for the mother, Pearletta, either. Born to successful parents, she fell prey to drugs, married the ne’er-do-well Gilroy, and sought comfort in the arms of another man: Solemn Redvine’s father. Solemn suspects the child may be her kin, but discovering the truth may cost her her sanity. After witnessing the murder, Solemn begins hallucinating, even hearing the baby speak at her own funeral. Then Pearletta disappears. Justin Bolden, the only black officer on the local police force, had spent time answering drunken phone calls from grief-stricken Pearletta, so when she vanishes, his interest is piqued, particularly since she was last seen in a hotel room, back in the thrall of cocaine and accompanied by a red-haired man—a man a little too similar to the owner of the land underneath the trailer park. Buckhanon (Conception, 2008, etc.) crafts a hypnotic tale, poetically conjuring the intricate workings of Solemn’s thoughts and ghostly visitations. Will Solemn be able to rise above the circumstances of her impoverished beginnings? Will she be able to rise above the discovery of her father’s infidelity? As Solemn’s troubles compound, veering inexorably toward a crime that shockingly severs father from daughter, Buckhanon deftly ratchets up the tension.

Cast against the hardships of everyday life in Singer’s Trailer Park, a young girl's troubled thoughts make for a heartbreaking story of broken promises.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-250-09159-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2016


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