Glow: A Novel

Glow: A Novel

4.0 11
by Jessica Maria Tuccelli

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October 1941. Eleven-year-old Ella McGee sits on a bus bound for her Southern hometown. Behind her in Washington, D.C., lie the broken pieces of her parents’ love story—a black father drafted, an activist mother of Scotch-Irish and Cherokee descent confronting racist thugs. But Ella’s journey is just beginning when she reaches Hopewell County, and


October 1941. Eleven-year-old Ella McGee sits on a bus bound for her Southern hometown. Behind her in Washington, D.C., lie the broken pieces of her parents’ love story—a black father drafted, an activist mother of Scotch-Irish and Cherokee descent confronting racist thugs. But Ella’s journey is just beginning when she reaches Hopewell County, and her disappearance into the Georgia mountains will unfurl a rich tapestry of family secrets spanning a century. Told in five unforgettable voices, Glow reaches back through the generations, from the eve of World War II to the Blue Ridge frontier of 1836, where slave plantations adjoin the haunted glades of a razed Cherokee Nation. Out of these characters’ lives evolves a drama that is at once intimately human and majestic in its power to call upon the great themes of our time—race, identity, and the bonds of family and community.
Lushly conceived, cinematically detailed, and epic in historical scope, Glow announces an extraordinary new voice in Southern fiction.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Fans of The Help, this one's for you: A tale of ghosts, slavery, racism and redemption wrapped up in an epic testament to the power of maternal love.” —Ladies' Home Journal

“With Glow, Jessica Maria Tuccelli has brought our Southern past to visceral and gorgeous life. Prepare to be drenched in the fierce humanity of her characters, bewitched by the powerful music of their voices and seared by the beauty and tragedy of their stories.” —Hillary Jordan, author of When She Woke and Mudbound

Glow is a beautifully wrought debut novel about magic, nature, history and the undying bonds of mother love. Jessica Maria Tuccelli is a remarkable new writer to watch.” —Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot

Glow is one of the strangest and most original first novels I've ever read—linguistically complex, vivid, and inventive. I can't think of another book even remotely like it, with the possible exception of Eudora Welty's The Robber Bridegroom. Jessica Maria Tuccelli takes enormous risks in her book, which pay off in subtle and interesting rewards. We'll be hearing a lot more about this writer.” —Mark Childress, author of Georgia Bottoms and Crazy in Alabama

“Ms. Tuccelli has rendered a novel of such precise honesty that it casts its own bright incandescence upon its readers. The language is varied and musical throughout, and the characters as recognizable as one's family. I will care about these people for years to come.” —Mark Spragg, author of An Unfinished Life and Bone Fire

Publishers Weekly
In Tuccelli’s sweeping debut, mothers and daughters are fiercely tethered over six generations and beyond death. The novel, which spans the years 1836–1941, follows the female descendants of pioneer Solomon Bounds, whose family tree is crowded with slave owners and slaves, Native Americans, and the soldiers who drove them from their lands. After the home she shares with her mother, Mia, is vandalized on the eve of a civil rights protest in Washington, D.C., the youngest of Bounds’s kin, great-great-great-great-granddaughter Ella McGee, 11, journeys to her uncle’s home in Hopewell, Ga. On the way, she gets lost and lands in the care of Willie Mae, an elderly mystic and the wife of Bounds’s grandnephew. Meanwhile, Mia frantically searches for her daughter in Hopewell and finds a county whose rural idyll has been ravaged by the treacheries of slaveholders and the KKK. In intersecting narratives, Willa Mae, Mia, and Ella recount brutal traumas that gave them access to a magical spirit world of female ancestors. This elaborately woven plot serves the story well, peppering the novel with moments of lingering beauty and shocking violence. Though Tuccelli dances close to stereotypes of maternal piety, the complexity of her ghosts and her protagonists’ folksy charm help stave off sentimentality. Agent: ICM. (Mar.)
Library Journal
It's a good thing there's a helpful genealogical chart at the beginning of this first novel, as the narrative ranges over seven generations of two Southern families and offers up a confusing web of marriages and sexual unions among black slaves, white masters, freed slaves, freeborn blacks, Native Americans, and their mixed-race progeny in the fictional Georgia county of Hopewell. For a work of historical fiction, there isn't much detail about the historical South, just enough to designate time periods for the novel's events. Tales of family lore, ghosts, and hoodoo magic are jumbled together with childhood recollections, hate crimes, civil rights activism, and acts of institutionalized racial prejudice, and this makes it hard to follow the stories of the family members from different generations that thread through the book. VERDICT This promising debut's many intriguing stories are scattered too freely, and the voices of the different characters aren't differentiated enough for readers to connect with them individually. However, those who enjoy stories about generations of wise mothers and beloved daughters should appreciate.—Laurie A. Cavanaugh, Wareham Free Lib., MA
Kirkus Reviews
Tuccelli's ambitious first novel offers a fictionalized history of race relations—slavery, the appropriation of Cherokees' land, the rise of the KKK—encapsulated in the family history of the descendents of Solomon Bounds, an early-19th-century pioneer in rural north Georgia. In October 1941, Mia McGee, of Cherokee descent and married to her black childhood sweetheart Obidiah Bounds, is an NAACP activist in Washington, D.C. After receiving a violent threat, she attempts to protect her 11-year-old daughter Ella, sending her by bus to her brother in Hopewell, Ga. When Ella doesn't show up, Mia rushes to Hopewell in an understandable panic, but readers know that Ella is safely ensconced with Willie Mae and Mary-Mary, two elderly black women who came to her rescue after rednecks attacked her. This slender branch of plot carries a lot of weight as Ella's ancestors, of black, white, Cherokee blood, tell their stories. Readers will need the supplied family tree to keep names and dates straight: Mia, one-eighth Indian, recalls her depression era childhood and the Klan lynching of Obidiah's father, as well as visits from the girl ghost Lovelady. Former slave Willie Mae recalls being sold by a white ancestor of Ella's to Samuel Bounds. Willie Mae, who has "the glow" to attract spirits, is Mary-Mary's lover but also happily married to Alger, the son of slave Lossie and Riddle Young, the overseer of Samuel's farm. Riddle and his sister Emmaline, unhappily married to Samuel, are half Cherokee. Childless Emmaline commits suicide and becomes an unsettled spirit. In 1860 Riddle buys Lossie and Alger's freedom and takes the family, including Willie Mae, back to his homestead. Alger dies while a volunteer in the Confederate Army. Lovelady, Willie Mae's daughter, drowns escaping an attack by white racists during Reconstruction. The struggle between cruelty and goodness goes on and on. The surfeit of narratives about noble victims runs together into a heavy-handed treatise on racial injustices; and the awkward insertion of the supernatural only confuses.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Tuccelli is a lovely writer, and her almost magical ability to capture the voices and stories of the diverse characters in this novel is striking. She does not shy away from pain and suffering, but manages to find transcendence and hope for her characters against tremendous odds. The people in [Glow] are powerfully real, committed to family, to the land, and to the personal histories that make them who they are.” —David Wilk, The WritersCast

Meet the Author

Jessica Maria Tuccelli is a graduate of MIT. She currently resides in New York City. Glow is her first novel.

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Glow: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
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. Dollycas’s Thoughts 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”.
wendyld More than 1 year ago
I thought the writing was excellent and the author was adept at putting me in the scenes, though I did get confused when jumping into different heads and time periods, and some names seemed similar to others. Fortunately, I was able to continually refer to the family tree at the beginning of the book to see who and how the characters were related. This will most likely make the rounds of the book clubs as it deals with racial issues. I found the stories rather depressing, but realistic in showing the struggles of the characters through difficult times, and the fortitude that some of the characters showed in surviving obstacles was inspiring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bad language.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shutup daniel f.uckk yiu
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi erin!" She smiled
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey nina
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Be descriptive and active. Read her post first.
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