Perish: A Novel (Unabridged)
"Watkins’s prose is effortless and forthright. . .This is an impressive feat of storytelling. . .It’s a difficult read and a tender story of silences and secrets. It’s a novel about coming home, despite that home being broken. And it’s a brave triumph of a novel that readers won’t forget long after finishing it."
—New York Times Book Review
Named A Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by *Good Morning America.com* *Essence* *Esquire* *The Root* *Bustle* *PopSugar* *Ms. Magazine* and *The Millions*
From a stunning new voice comes a powerful debut novel, Perish, about a Black Texan family, exploring the effects of inherited trauma and intergenerational violence as the family comes together to say goodbye to their matriarch on her deathbed.
Bear it or perish yourself. Those are the words Helen Jean hears that fateteful night in her cousin’s outhouse that change the trajectory of her life.
Spanning decades, Perish tracks the choices Helen Jean—the matriarch of the Turner family—makes and the way those choices have rippled across generations, from her children to her grandchildren and beyond.
Told in alternating chapters, Perish follows four members of the Turner family: Julie B., a woman who regrets her wasted youth and the time spent under Helen Jean’s thumb; Alex, a police officer grappling with a dark and twisted past; Jan, a mother of two who yearns to go to school and leave Jerusalem, Texas, and all of its trauma behind for good; and Lydia, a woman whose marriage is falling apart because her body can’t seem to stay pregnant, as they're called home to say goodbye to their mother and grandmother.
This family’s “reunion” unearths long-kept secrets and forces each member to ask themselves important questions about who is deserving of forgiveness and who bears the cross of blame.
Set in vividly drawn Texas and tackling themes like trauma, legacy, faith, home, class, race, and more, this beautiful yet heart heart-wrenching novel will appeal to anyone who is interested in the intricacies of family and the ways bonds can be made, maintained, or irrevocably broken.