Happy Monday, Savvy Readers! Can you believe there are only 15 days left of 2019? Actually, forget 2019… There are only 15 days left IN THIS DECADE! We can’t believe it… In keeping with the trend of 2019, our third-to-last 50 Book Pledge Featured Read of the year is a stunning work of historical fiction that you are going to absolutely love!
For us Canadians, the name “Africville” should bring us back to Canadian history class all those years ago, when we learned about the Nova Scotia town settled by former slaves. In this stunning historical debut, Jeffrey Colvin drops us into the heart of Africville as we follow several generations of one family bound together and torn apart by blood, faith, time, and fate. Africville chronicles the lives of three generations of the Sebolt family whose lives unfold against the tumultuous events of the twentieth century, from the Great Depression of the 1930s, through the social protests of the 1960s, to the economic upheavals of the 1980s.
Starting with Kath Ella, the matriarch of the story, we discover how her ancestors first established their new home in Nova Scotia. Much like the lives of her ancestors, Kath Ella’s life is shaped by hardships, most notable her struggles to conceive children and, eventually, to provide for her family during the long, bitter Canadian winters that we know so well. While all of this is going on, she and her family must also deal with the local’s lingering suspicions about the “dark-skinned outsiders” who live in their midst. Despite her intense love for her son Omar, Kath Ella cannot help her overcome the racial prejudices that linger in this remote, tight-knit place.
As Omar grows up, he becomes rebellious, ultimately refuting his past and deciding to break from the family, threatening everything that Kath Ella and her people have tried to build. Over the decades, as each successive generation drifts further and further from Africville, we learn just how much of this place stays with them. Whether its the bustling city of Montreal, the slow-pace of Vermont, or deep in the Southern states, Africville – and its legacy – lives on within each one of these family members.
Exploring the notions of identity, passing, cross-racial relationships, the importance of place, and the meaning of home, Africville tells the larger story of Canada and the United States. Equally vibrant and lyrical, this moving, powerful story, filled with haunted voices, beautiful imagery, and grounded in well-researched history, is a truly incredible piece of literature, and one that will certainly appeal to fans of Lawrence Hill, George Elliott Clarke, Colson Whitehead, and Yaa Gyasi.