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The Resource The Twelve-Mile Straight, Eleanor Henderson

The Twelve-Mile Straight, Eleanor Henderson

Label
The Twelve-Mile Straight
Title
The Twelve-Mile Straight
Statement of responsibility
Eleanor Henderson
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
  • "Novel set in the south during the Great Depression that takes an entirely fresh view on big American themes-- race, heredity, inequality, shame-- set in a time of financial crisis and racialized violence"--
  • Cotton County, Georgia, 1930. Two babies-- one light-skinned, the other dark-- are born to Elma Jesup, a white sharecropper's daughter. Accused of her rape, field hand Genus Jackson is lynched and dragged behind a truck down the Twelve-Mile Straight, the road to the nearby town. Elma begins to raise her babies as best as she can, under the roof of her mercurial father, Juke, and with the help of Nan, the young black housekeeper. But the ties that bind all of them together are more intricate than any could have ever imagined, and a web of lies begins to collapse around the family
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Review
  • Henderson follows her acclaimed debut, Ten Thousand Saints (2011), with this totally immersing, provocative historical novel—a multigenerational saga set in 1930s rural Georgia and framed by the Depression, Prohibition, and Jim Crow racism. When Elma, a sharecropper’s daughter, gives birth to twins—one light like her, and one dark—she claims the dark baby is due to her “great-great-granddaddy’s Indian blood.” But her father, Juke, thinks otherwise, as does the probable father, the son of Juke’s boss. The violence that follows, fueled by the racism always lurking just under the surface in this isolated town, haunts the family for years. Henderson injects enlightening side plots involving polio, which has left Elma’s future husband crippled; sickle-cell anemia, carried by several of Henderson’s black characters; and the nascent research into DNA testing, which at least partially solves the deepest of the novel’s many secrets. The world of Twelve Mile Straight—the rural back road of this engrossing novel’s title, with its illegal distillery, chain gangs, and lynchings—will continue to haunt readers long after they finish the final page. -- Donovan, Deborah (Reviewed 8/1/2017) (Booklist, vol 113, number 22, p36)
  • Lingering in the overheated world of the Deep South during the Depression, the convoluted second novel by Henderson (Ten Thousand Saints) delves into questions of race, class, and gender, sometimes at the expense of character development. When Georgia sharecropper and bootlegger Juke’s teenaged daughter, Elma, claims to have given birth to twins, one white and one black, her father and her wealthy ne’er-do-well fiancé become enraged, and a black field hand is lynched. Elma cares for the children with the help of Nan, a mute young black servant and midwife in whom Juke takes an interest. The babies are treated as a miracle by some in the community and a sin by others, and they attract the attention of both a polio-stricken researcher who studies sickle cell disease at a university in Atlanta and the members of a chain gang who are paving the little back road on which Elma’s family lives. The richly detailed landscape of the volatile mill town where the novel is set immerse the reader in an unsentimental version of the South under economic and social pressure. The plot of the novel is less promising: readers are likely to figure out supposed secrets long before they are revealed. (Sept.) --Staff (Reviewed 07/17/2017) (Publishers Weekly, vol 264, issue 29, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ In 1930 Georgia, retribution is swift when white sharecropper's daughter Elma Jesup gives birth to two babies, one dark-skinned. For the presumed rape, field hand Genus Jackson is dragged to his death down a local road called the Twelve-Mile Straight. Thus does the tragedy of racial violence in the Jim Crow South shape the narrative, but Henderson (Ten Thousand Saints) is after something more, showing the damage wrought by divisions of class as well as race and the way both a family and a community can be sustained by lies. As Elma raises the children with the help of young black housekeeper Nan, nearly a sister to her, it's evident that her dreams for a better life were short-circuited from the start by the contempt with which folks like her are regarded by other whites. The tangled, often painful relations binding Nan, Elma, and Elma's father also emerge, along with questions regarding the children's paternity, a mystery that drives the narrative forward to a strong, morally riven climax. VERDICT Henderson's highly recommended title delivers a powerful tale of social complexity told in radiant and precise prose. [See Prepub Alert, 3/3/17.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal --Barbara Hoffert (Reviewed 08/01/2017) (Library Journal, vol 142, issue 13, p83)
  • The births of two babies and the consequent lynching of a black man launch Henderson's (Ten Thousand Saints, 2011) grim investigation into the fractures of race, class, and family in rural Georgia.Pink little Winnafred and brown Wilson are born in the summer of 1930, allegedly the twin offspring of 18-year-old Elma Jesup, whose father, Juke, accuses field hand Genus Jackson of raping her. Elma reluctantly confirms this, and her fiance, Freddie Wilson, helps Juke string up Genus and then skips town. Wealthy George Wilson is furious with Juke for letting his grandson take the blame—not that anyone wants to bring the lynchers to justice—and is suspicious about these "Gemini twins." Indeed, we hear very soon that Wilson was fathered by Juke with Nan, the Jesups' 14-year-old African-American servant. Juke forces the two girls into this absurd deception for reasons that are somewhat obscure until Henderson's tangled saga has unreeled a good deal farther into the year 1931 and back into a past that includes abuse and violence galore. The details are baroque but appropriate to the epically unjust society scathingly depicted. The reign of terror under which African-Americans live takes perhaps its most appalling form in the stories of Nan and her mother, both forced into long-term sexual subjugation by white men, but Elma and the white girls who work at George Wilson's cotton mill are hardly better off. Juke, in Henderson's most multifaceted and terrifying portrait, clings to the prerogatives of race and gender to hide from himself the fact that he's just trash in the eyes of men like George Wilson, who hold the real power in the South. Despite Henderson's evident compassion for her characters, she gives them hardly a moment of grace from the dark opening to the brutal denouement, which makes the tentatively hopeful epilogue somewhat difficult to credit. Strong medicine, not always easy to swallow, but readers who like a challenge will relish this gifted writer's ambition and grit.(Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2017)
Assigning source
Provided by publisher
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10576357
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Henderson, Eleanor
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
LC call number
PS3608.E5259
LC item number
T94 2017
Literary form
novels
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Southern States
  • Southern States
  • Depressions
  • FICTION
  • Depressions
  • Manners and customs
  • Race relations
  • Southern States
  • Depressions
  • Southern States
  • Southern States
Label
The Twelve-Mile Straight, Eleanor Henderson
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
543 pages
Isbn
9780062422088
Lccn
2016048070
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)966381917
Label
The Twelve-Mile Straight, Eleanor Henderson
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
543 pages
Isbn
9780062422088
Lccn
2016048070
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)966381917

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
      85 Literary Lane, Newnan, GA, 30265, US
      33.38561 -84.669793
    • Senoia BranchBorrow it
      148 Pylant Street, Senoia, GA, 30276, US
      33.297709 -84.561283

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