Sacred Dust

Sacred Dust

by David Hill
     
 

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Rose of Sharon had cried out to the man on the boat, tried to warn him the night he was shot for fishing where he wasn't welcome. Then she retreated into silence—and guilt. Rose might have kept quiet if it hadn't been for Lily, the outsider whose infidelities titillated Prince George County. Brassy, blonde Lily saw straight through Rose, the dutiful wife of an

Overview

Rose of Sharon had cried out to the man on the boat, tried to warn him the night he was shot for fishing where he wasn't welcome. Then she retreated into silence—and guilt. Rose might have kept quiet if it hadn't been for Lily, the outsider whose infidelities titillated Prince George County. Brassy, blonde Lily saw straight through Rose, the dutiful wife of an abusive man. Lily pushed her over the edge, exacting friendship where Rose had none to give, demanding that she break the code of silence that imprisoned them all. For both women knew that a man was killed in Prince George County for the color of his skin—and the time for change had come.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW gave a starred review to this story of a woman's fight against racism in 1980s Alabama. (July)
Library Journal
A black man is shot and killed for daring to fish on a lake in an exclusively white Alabama county, a murder that links and illuminates the story's richly complex characters. A woman of conscience nearly buried in an abusive marriage rises against her Klansman husband; a black minister, whose mother and grandparents fled the county 75 years ago, returns for a civil rights march organized by a young white redneck native; a brash newcomer and dissatisfied housewife challenges the complacency and morality of her neighbors. These are ordinary folks whose lives embody varied measures of good, evil, desire, pain, despair, and courage. This first novel is a story of divisions and connections within and between races, genders, and families by an author whose insight crosses each divide with remarkable skill and enormous heart. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/96.]-Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
Kirkus Reviews
A passionate first novel about racial injustice, corrosive secrets, and the unexpected resilience of the hard-pressed.

Rose of Sharon is, as the story begins, without much hope: Her only child has died; her abusive husband, Darnell, spends most of his time ranting about black conspiracies; and her ancient mother is withdrawing into reveries of the past. When Darnell and his Klan cronies kill a black man who has had the temerity to go fishing repeatedly in their all-white Alabama county (it's the 1980s, but in Prince George County it might as well be the 1940s), Rose does nothing, until she is challenged by a newcomer, the brash, free- spirited Lily. Also harassed by an abusive husband, Lily—who's critical of the sheriff's investigation of the murder—leaves him and takes a lover, an activist who has come to the area to open an alternative school. When tragedy overtakes Lily, Rose finally finds the strength to leave her own husband and speak out, defying her community for the sake of justice. Hill deftly weaves together a number of subplots, among them the long history of racial violence in the county, going back to "the Trouble" in 1914, when the white residents drove the entire black population out, burning down homes and killing those who fought back. A series of figures, including the bright, reticent Rose, the audacious Lily, their violent husbands, an elderly black minister whose parents had once lived in the county, and a decent young white man whose religious faith (vividly rendered) moves him to expose the county's bloody history and challenge its beliefs, narrate the action.

The voices occasionally slip into a sameness, and they seem at times a bit too rhetorically charged to be entirely believable. Nonetheless, Hill is a deft storyteller: He keeps the story moving propulsively forward and offers a climactic battle for justice that is stirring and persuasive. And in Rose he has created an iconoclastic, moving heroine.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385318167
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/28/1997
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

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