On a scorching day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family's black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember,... read more
In August of 1954, white upper-class housewife Paula Watts, her four children, and Mary Luther, her black maid, leave their comfortable home in Charlotte, NC, for a two-week vacation. Paula’s husband, Bill Watts, who remains in Charlotte to run his business, plans to join his family at Pawleys... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
In August of 1954, white upper-class housewife Paula Watts, her four children, and Mary Luther, her black maid, leave their comfortable home in Charlotte, NC, for a two-week vacation. Paula’s husband, Bill Watts, who remains in Charlotte to run his business, plans to join his family at Pawleys Island, SC, ten days later. As they travel, Paula is questioned by her daughter Jubie about protest signs they see by the roadside. “It’s that foolishness in Washington,” Paula says, alluding to the Supreme Court decision in Brown versus Board of Education. She assures her daughter, “It won’t happen in Charlotte.”
Thirteen-year-old Jubie, whose humor and curiosity sustain her, narrates this novel, which explores the dangerous currents of violence, infidelity, and corruption that run beneath the polite surface of her family’s life. Mary Luther does her best to protect Jubie from her father and to compensate for Paula’s benign neglect of her children and her refusal to see that the family is falling apart. Mary is Jubie’s only source of unconditional love.
When Mary is brutally raped and murdered in a racially motivated crime, Jubie’s world is shattered. In her grief and desolation, she steals her mother’s car and drives two hundred miles home to attend Mary’s funeral. This journey creates a shift in Jubie’s relationship with her father as she realizes that his power is limited. Bill Watts’ life further unravels when a boy dies as the result of Bill’s negligence, and details emerge about his shady business dealings and his connections with white supremacists.
The loss of Mary Luther, her friend and ally, marks the beginning of Jubie’s liberation.
“"Someday when the carpeting was pulled up, someone would find a small paper, folded many times: To Whom It May Concern. My name is June Bentley Watts and I lived here from September 1952 to January 1955. I dedicate this room to the memory of Mary Constance Culpepper Luther, 1906-1954."”
“Browning said, ‘A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?’Highlighted by 7 Kindle customers
“Putting God in the pledge and on money—that’s like a sign in the sky saying ‘air.’ ” Sometimes Mary surprised me, the things she thought about.Highlighted by 7 Kindle customers
I walked down to the beach. I loved having it there, morning, noon, and night, a place where I could go and imagine things being different than they were.Highlighted by 7 Kindle customers
“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the wicked shall be cut off; but those who wait for the LORD shall possess the land.”Highlighted by 4 Kindle customers
a piece of furniture. But he’d become a grown-up and I wasn’t sure he’d understand.Highlighted by 4 Kindle customers
“Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts. . . .”Highlighted by 4 Kindle customers
“The trumpet sounds within my soul. I ain’t got long to stay here.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
“Maybe she was an hour late being born and never got caught up.”Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
“Paula, you’re too kind. Brenda Simpson’d make a nigger look smart.”Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
Listen to yourself; tell stories you’ve lived and craft them into fiction. To do that, you must believe that your experiences are valid and of interest to others. Negative thoughts about your talent as a writer will stop you in your tracks. I also suggest getting into a writing group.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
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