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The Accidentals: A Novel

The Accidentals: A Novel

by Minrose Gwin

Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Unabridged — 12 hours, 28 minutes

Minrose Gwin
The Accidentals: A Novel

The Accidentals: A Novel

by Minrose Gwin

Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Unabridged — 12 hours, 28 minutes

Minrose Gwin

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Overview

Following the death of their mother from a botched backwoods abortion, the McAlister daughters have to cope with the ripple effect of this tragedy as they come of age in 1950s Mississippi and then grow up to face their own impossible choices — an unforgettable, beautiful novel that is threaded throughout with the stories of mothers and daughters in pre-Roe versus Wade America.

Life heads down back alleys, takes sharp left turns. Then, one fine day it jumps the track and crashes.¿

In the fall of 1957, Olivia McAlister is living in Opelika, Mississippi, caring for her two girls, June and Grace, and her husband, Holly. She dreams of living a much larger life — seeing the world and returning to her wartime job at a landing boat factory in New Orleans. As she watches over the birds in her yard, Olivia feels like an ¿accidental¿ — a migratory bird blown off course.

When Olivia becomes pregnant again, she makes a fateful decision, compelling Grace, June, and Holly to cope in different ways. While their father digs up the backyard to build a bomb shelter, desperate to protect his family, Olivia's spinster sister tries to take them all under her wing. But the impact of Olivia's decision reverberates throughout Grace's and June's lives. Grace, caught up in an unconventional love affair, becomes one of the ¿girls who went away¿ to have a baby in secret. June, guilt-ridden for her part in exposing Grace's pregnancy, eventually makes an unhappy marriage. Meanwhile Ed Mae Johnson, an African-American care worker in a New Orleans orphanage, is drastically impacted by Grace's choices.

As the years go by, their lives intersect in ways that reflect the unpredictable nature of bird flight that lands in accidental locations — and the consolations of imperfect return.

Filled with tragedy, humor, joy, and the indomitable strength of women facing the constricted spaces of the 1950s and 60s, The Accidentals is a poignant, timely novel that reminds us of the hope and consolation that can be found in unexpected landings.



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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

04/01/2019

Evocatively depicting the small town of Opelika, Miss., in 1957, Gwin (Promise) tells the heart-rending story of a mother feeling trapped in her life, whose death throws her family into turmoil. Olivia goes to a “chiropractor” for an illegal abortion, dying a few days later from complications. Her husband, Holly, copes by trying to protect his daughters from the unlikely threats of bombs and natural disasters while ignoring their emotional needs. The older daughter, Grace, blames herself for not finding Olivia sooner, and her own poor choices lead to her becoming pregnant at 16 and getting sent away to have the baby in secret. The younger daughter, June, grows up to marry unhappily. Meanwhile, Ed Mae, the orphanage worker who cares for Grace’s child, has a moment of distraction that leads to complex consequences. Though the story is wrought with sadness, there’s a sense of hope that those thrown off course may find happiness in the end. Fans of tear-jerkers will forgive the occasional too-pat coincidence as Gwin brings all the threads together for an uplifting finale. This is a satisfying fable of errors and consequences in a tumultuous era. Agent: Jane von Mehren, Aevitas Creative Mgmt. (Aug.)

From the Publisher

Evocatively depicting the small town of Opelika, Miss., in 1957, Gwin (Promise) tells the heart-rending story of a mother feeling trapped in her life, whose death throws her family into turmoil. A satisfying fable of errors and consequences in a tumultuous era.” — Publishers Weekly

“An important story about women’s reproductive rights and the consequences of limited choices, the novel will transport readers to the rural Mississippi of a bygone era. The story offers unique and insightful perspectives on family, race, forgiveness, and personal agency. An artfully crafted tale...” — Kirkus Reviews

“A sensitive coming-of-age story…saturated with heartbreak but still offering hope.” — Booklist

“...Minrose Gwin tenderly recounts the lives of two sisters shattered by the shocking loss of their mother. The unique voices of outsiders enrich their story, and Gwin pulls together the threads of all characters’ lives into an elegant and surprising tapestry.” — Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Dream Daughter

“This is the story of a family, but mostly, it’s the epic tale of two sisters, and, in the end, we are left with sublime memories of empty sparrow nests, chicken “coke awe vine,” and reticulating giraffes. A stunning book you will want to read and re-read.” — Margaret McMullan, bestselling author of Where the Angels Lived

“THE ACCIDENTALS is a major work by someone whose earlier novels already marked her as one of this generation’s great novelists...And it is not only character and plot that make this book so readable; the writing is pure poetry. Gwin has done it again!” — Margaret Randall, author of Time’s Language: Selected Poems 1959-2018

“If Eudora Welty channeled Charles Dickens she’d have written this novel about orphans and strays and the accidental ways they lose and find each other. It’s a happy, sad, sweet page-turner, a great book.” — Debra Monroe, author of On the Outskirts of Normal

“THE ACCIDENTALS may be Minrose Gwin’s best yet. A family saga set in the black-and-white South of a generation ago, every page of this gripping drama shines with unexpected flashes of beauty and brilliance. A gorgeous book.” — George Bishop, author of The Night of the Comet

The Accidentals is a whirlwind of a book, spanning sixty years of American history as experienced by one southern family. Regardless of your attitudes on abortion, civil rights, and the space race, this novel will lift you out of your comfort zone before shaking you out of your complacency.” — Sharon Oard Warner, author of Sophie’s House of Cards

Debra Monroe

If Eudora Welty channeled Charles Dickens she’d have written this novel about orphans and strays and the accidental ways they lose and find each other. It’s a happy, sad, sweet page-turner, a great book.

George Bishop

THE ACCIDENTALS may be Minrose Gwin’s best yet. A family saga set in the black-and-white South of a generation ago, every page of this gripping drama shines with unexpected flashes of beauty and brilliance. A gorgeous book.

Margaret Randall

THE ACCIDENTALS is a major work by someone whose earlier novels already marked her as one of this generation’s great novelists...And it is not only character and plot that make this book so readable; the writing is pure poetry. Gwin has done it again!

Booklist

A sensitive coming-of-age story…saturated with heartbreak but still offering hope.

Diane Chamberlain

...Minrose Gwin tenderly recounts the lives of two sisters shattered by the shocking loss of their mother. The unique voices of outsiders enrich their story, and Gwin pulls together the threads of all characters’ lives into an elegant and surprising tapestry.

Margaret McMullan

This is the story of a family, but mostly, it’s the epic tale of two sisters, and, in the end, we are left with sublime memories of empty sparrow nests, chicken “coke awe vine,” and reticulating giraffes. A stunning book you will want to read and re-read.”

Sharon Oard Warner

The Accidentals is a whirlwind of a book, spanning sixty years of American history as experienced by one southern family. Regardless of your attitudes on abortion, civil rights, and the space race, this novel will lift you out of your comfort zone before shaking you out of your complacency.

Booklist

A sensitive coming-of-age story…saturated with heartbreak but still offering hope.

Margaret McMullen

This is the story of a family, but mostly, it’s the epic tale of two sisters, and, in the end, we are left with sublime memories of empty sparrow nests, chicken “coke awe vine,” and reticulating giraffes. A stunning book you will want to read and re-read.

Kirkus Reviews

2019-05-13
White sisters in 1950s Mississippi lose their mother to a botched abortion and spend the next several decades struggling to navigate their own fraught relationship.

Grace and June McAlister live in Opelika, Mississippi, where their father is an accountant for the lumber mill and their mother stays home to look after the family. The girls don't know that their mother, Olivia, always wanted to be more than a wife and mother. When Olivia discovers she's pregnant again, she visits a local abortionist whose shoddy technique causes her irreparable physical damage. After Olivia confesses to her husband, Holly, what she's done, he takes the girls to see the giraffes at the nearby zoo. During the time they spend looking at animals, Olivia bleeds out and dies at home. As Holly grieves his wife, he becomes obsessed with protecting his daughters. Instead of tending to their meals or hygiene, though, he spends all his time in the backyard, digging a bomb shelter. After a few years of Holly's subpar supervision, Grace ends up a pregnant teenager. When her sister, June, discovers the pregnancy, she immediately tells Holly, and he sends Grace to a home for pregnant girls where she can wait out the pregnancy and put the baby up for adoption. Grace blames June for several unfortunate events that follow, and their strife continues for decades thereafter. Every time the sisters attempt to move beyond the mistakes of their shared past, something new seems to get in their way. An important story about women's reproductive rights and the consequences of limited choices, the novel will transport readers to the rural Mississippi of a bygone era. The prose is teeming with beautifully vivid portraits of local birds and vegetation as well as evocative descriptions of contemporary foods, homemade liquor, and weekday dinners. Told from the perspectives of multiple characters, including the sisters, their parents, and Ed Mae Johnson, an African American nurse from the orphanage, the story offers unique and insightful perspectives on family, race, forgiveness, and personal agency.

An artfully crafted tale that explores how restrictions on women's choices impacted female relationships in mid-20th-century America.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940173828866
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/04/2022
Edition description: Unabridged

Customer Reviews