“Bought on a whim at an airport bookstore, but was engrossing enough to hold my attention even on a flight (and I don't like flying!). Historical fiction that spans several generations of Southern families.”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“Very difficult book to read as it skipped back and forth between generations of African Americans and Cherokees in a family tree. Also much dialect spoken and at times it was hard to figure out what was happening. One would read a couple chapter and be completely confused and then read a few...”see full review » see other reviews »
“Bought on a whim at an airport bookstore, but was engrossing enough to hold my attention even on a flight (and I don't like flying!). Historical fiction that spans several generations of Southern families. ”Jamie wrote this review Saturday, May 18, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Very difficult book to read as it skipped back and forth between generations of African Americans and Cherokees in a family tree. Also much dialect spoken and at times it was hard to figure out what was happening. One would read a couple chapter and be completely confused and then read a few chapters in which one would be immersed in life during slavery or the Jim Crow era. Certain chapters I found to be riveting but most of the book was dull. I really disliked the parts of the book about ghosts or haints. The identity of one haint was not revealed until near the end of the book, most annoying.”Sue M wrote this review Thursday, July 5, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Mara B said: 4.5 Stars
This book opens in 1941 with a young NAACP organizer in Washington D.C. putting her daughter on a bus in the middle of the night after a brick with a threatening message attached is thrown through their window--the bus is meant to take young Ella back to the safety offered by her extended family in Georgia, but a missed final connection leads to her being attacked and left for dead on the side of the road instead. Fortunately she is found and taken in by two eccentric older women, which begins an interweaving of narratives and voices through which the reader learns the full history of the inhabitants of this particular corner of Georgia.
This is a somewhat difficult novel to describe, as much of it is straightforward historical fiction but there are also some magical realism components that are tricky to describe--the novel has ghosts and other unexplained phenomena sprinkled throughout. The storytelling is really masterful, though...sometimes novels with multiple narrators can annoy me because I end up wanting to flip ahead to find the next section narrated by my favorites, but I found all the main characters in this book to be compelling and authentic (with the possible exception of the one who reads so much Shakespeare that he starts overusing the word "verily"...I got a little tired of him!) And I almost want to go back and re-read this one now that I know all the relationships and history, to see if there are things I missed the first time through...I'm sure there are! Highly recommended.”
“I am not going to lie, this book took some getting used to. What it reminded me of is a great bit ball of string, all knotted up, and trying to get it all into one smooth string, you have to follow the knots and work them slowly, one by one.
Glow begins with the story of Mia and Ella - Mia being the teenage mother of Ella, but Ella believing her grandmother is really her mother. There is racial tensions, being as this is set in Georgia in the mid-40's, and the switching back and forth between perspectives makes things a bit tiring.
But then something happens around mid-way through the book. The knots begin to take on lives of their own, and the characters meander through each others lives making the transition between characters and times a bit more easy to stand.
Glow is a fascinating look at not only the lives of characters of mixed race (Native American and African American feature prominently in this book), but also a very interesting look at the publications of the Census Bureau during the various times in the novel. Glow is a tearjerker - I was weeping and angry at the injustice that was oh so real and happening to people within its pages, and by the time I had closed the book, I knew I'd experienced something that will haunt me into the future.
“If I could, I would give this book ten stars. I don't know what the criteria is for a masterpiece, but in my opinion, this meets any requirements for that honor.
What beautiful, beautiful language. The characters are magnificently presented so you feel as if you truly know these people. The smells, the sights, the sounds are all there to make this a unique experience.
It travels from the 1800s up to WWII. Here is an interview with the author: http://us.penguingroup.com/static/html/podcast/clips/9780670023318.mp3
If you'll listen to this, it will give you a much better feel for this book than I can.
I had an epiphany shortly after I finished reading and I'm curious to see if anyone else sees it the same way as I.
So, if you read this book, please message me on Facebook so I can discuss my opinion with you.
It's difficult to grasp that this is Tuccelli's first novel. I feel sure it won't be her last. I'm not one to read a book more than once, but I will probably make an exception in this case.
Please don't miss the chance to experience the ultimate in writing fiction.”
“ In the autumn of 1941, Amelia J. McGee, a young woman of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish descent, and an outspoken pamphleteer for the NAACP, hastily sends her daughter, Ella, alone on a bus home to Georgia in the middle of the night - a desperate measure that proves calamitous when the child encounters two drifters and is left for dead on the side of the road.
Ella awakens in the homestead of Willie Mae Cotton, a root doctor and former slave, and her partner, Mary-Mary Freeborn, tucked deep in the Takatoka Forest. As Ella heals, the secrets of her lineage are revealed. (Blurb, cover jacket Glow)
Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli is reminiscent of Edward P. Jones, The Known World, in that it is a patchwork of the lives of many that intertwine in ways both obvious and surprising. Ella, also known in the novel as E.F. McGee, really acts as a plot device, pulling the stories of the past from Mary-Mary and Willie Mae and evoking haints that expand the stories of the characters introduced along the way.
For that reason, the blurb above is truthful but limiting, as the novel spans time, place, and generations, eventually making its rounds of a large and complex family tree provided in the opening pages. E.F. McGee's narrative is woven throughout and reveals details about the other narrators that make for a fuller, richer story, but it doesn't necessarily elucidate Ella's own character or that of her mother, Amelia. Instead, there is a whole cast of characters, some Native American, others slaves, others white men who tangle these lines when and where they choose, and the narrative changes as a different character picks up a chapter, allowing for earlier stories to gradually come together and make up a whole.
Glow is beautifully written, and particularly since this is a debut novel, the research, dialogue and plot are incredibly well delivered. At times, though, Tuccelli seems to become even more conscious of the language she uses, which results in some clunky metaphors and similes:
Her hair is wild. It is a flock of muddy goats flowing down a mountainside.
This sort of description is not particularly evocative of the image Tuccelli is trying to relate. This too:
The cascade gurgled like a newborn baby while damselflies hovered above and blue skinks slithered under prism-flecked stones.
Above, the sky is filled with bright pinpricks where the heavens show through. I like to think they are God's windows and the twinkling is angels covered in glossy feathers walking by and looking in.
After a while, these descriptions clutter the true beauty of this story: the characters.
Mary-Mary and Willie Mae are endearing. Willie Mae has an aura about her, one that Mary-Mary immediately sees when Willie Mae uncovers her head one day to wash her hair. Both slaves as young girls, the two grow up together and love one another, eventually living together like an old married couple after enduring years of hardship as slaves. When they find E.F. McGee unconscious with her dog Brando, they take her in and nurse her to health, and while recovering, Ella asks, "Willie Mae, why do you glow?" And Willie Mae answers:
"Do I still glow?" she says, with a funny sadness in her voice. "That nice to know," she says. "It ain't something I can explain, but it's there, protective and fierce - like mother love for a child."
And mother love is central to the novel, as the mothers again and again defy expectations of women in the South during their respective time frames. However, these are also women of color - Cherokee and slave - women who carry the traditions, stories, and superstitions of their ancestors, and as one character says about his mother,
With her death had come the most disturbing sound to befall my ears: nay, not my father's racking sobs, but the hardened clumps of clay rapping against her coffin as he shoveled her and her stories away.
Glow is a really impressive novel, one that will mystify at the same time it enlightens. By encompassing all these lives and their individual stories, Tuccelli gives voice to not only the cruelty of the South and its history but also to the mystery and elusiveness it retains.”
“Ordinarily, I write my own summaries of books, but try as I might, I could not manage to sum Glow up in a paragraph. This novel, though not especially long, is dense and complex. There hardly is a plot, but a whole lot happens. Nothing is stated explicitly; it's left to the reader to suss out the meaning.
Glow did not especially grab me, but, despite that, I can still appreciate the artistry of the book. Jessica Maria Tuccelli displays evident talent both in the unique construction of a narrative and in the writing of disparate characters.
Tuccelli tells the story using multiple points of view, a very effective narrative style, but a very dangerous one as well. Only authors talented enough to write easily distinguishable characters by voice alone can pull it off. Tuccelli does so with ease. Each of the assortment of characters that narrate their perspective have very particular methods of speaking that clearly distinguish them. Most all of them speak in their own particular dialect, all quite distinct even though they all live in the same small town. One character's brief section seems more like poetry than prose, and, though unclear, conveys perfectly the confusion and tragedy of a little girl's death.
In Glow, Tuccelli tackles a number of serious issues, most importantly that of racism. The characters in the story come from an array of backgrounds, but are mostly black and Indian (as in Native American). The story spans all the way from before the Civil War era to 1941, from the era of slavery to the fight for civil rights.
When I first started reading Glow, I tried to read it like I do most books, quickly, devouring. This was, I realized later, a mistake. By reading so fast, I became confused about some of the action and the relationships between moments. When I began reading more slowly, giving myself more time to mull over what was going on and to really savor Tuccelli's talent, my joy of the book most certainly increased.
If you like beautifully-written historical fiction that will really make you think, try Glow.”
“This story spans the years 1836 to 1941 following the female descendants of Solomon Bounds.
Amelia McGee, a young woman of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish descent, is an outspoken pamphleteer for the NAACP and when her home was vandalized in the middle of the night she decides to put her eleven year old daughter, Ella, alone on a bus home to Georgia from Washington, D.C. But when the local bus is out of commission Ella is left walking the last part of her journey. She is preyed on by two drifters and is left for dead on the side of the road with just her dog.
Ella is found by Willa Mae Cotton, a former slave and Mary-Mary Freeborn. They take her back to their cabin to nurse her back to health. While there she learns the secrets of her lineage, she is the youngest of Solomon Bounds kin.
This is a poignant narrative of an important time in history. In 2012 we are still talking about race, it is still a hot button issue even as we have the first president of mixed race.
The author takes us on a journey through Solomon Bounds family tree and each branch and leaf gets to tell us their part of the story. White, African-American, Native American, even mixed together, they all have their own voice in this family. Their words have a lyrical quality that makes the story real and engaging.
It is a story full of history and local customs of the Northeast Georgia. The settings of the mountains and forests surrounding the story are described lovingly, as is the weather endured, the heat, the winds, and the rain.
The theme throughout is love, a mother’s love for her child, the lengths we go to to maintain that relationship as well the other relationships in our lives, even relationships that society would deem forbidden. The women in this adventure are very strong and continue to grow throughout their story.
Again, I am amazed that this is a debut novel for this author. She is definitely an author to watch.
This is a beautifully composed novel spanning over 100 years, the readers will definitely see and feel the “Glow”.”