A woman looks back at her painful childhood in the rural South to solve a family mystery: “Magnificent . . . just masterful” (Ann Patchett).
Ever since Ellen Tote can remember, she has dreamed of her mother slowly drowning. Now, with her own children all grown and her siblings long gone, Ellen is still haunted by her half-remembered past, and finally journeys back to her childhood for answers. Piecing together her memories of growing up among North Carolina tenant farmers in the 1940s, she articulates a story so shattering, it had long been silenced by fear and shame—in a heartrending and emotionally powerful tale from a PEN/Hemingway Award nominee and “one of the finest Southern novelists to appear in a long, long time” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
“There’s a lyric intensity and a quiet authority in Ellen’s narrative voice, and thoughtful consideration has been given to the question of how one makes peace with the griefs of the past.” —Francine Prose, People
“Explores, with surprising tenderness and lyricism, family violence as well as the cruelties inherent in growing up dirt-poor in the South.” —The State (Columbia, South Carolina)
“Grimsley’s delicate prose and the defiant resilience of his protagonist make reading his work a richly gratifying experience.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)