A spellbinding debut about half sisters, one black and one white, on a 1950s road trip through the American South
Self-educated and brown-skinned, Cassie works full time in her grandmother’s laundry in rural Mississippi. Illiterate and white, Judith falls for “colored music” and dreams of life as a big city radio star. These teenaged girls are half-sisters. And when they catch wind of their wayward father’s inheritance coming down in Virginia, they hitch their hopes to a road trip together to claim what’s rightly theirs.
In an old junk car, with a frying pan, a ham, and a few dollars hidden in a shoe, they set off through the American Deep South of the 1950s, a bewitchingly beautiful landscape as well as one bedeviled by racial strife and violence. Suzanne Feldman's Absalom’s Daughters combines the buddy movie, the coming-of-age tale, and a dash of magical realism to enthrall and move us with an unforgettable, illuminating novel.
Feldman's resonant and engrossing debut is a tale of sisterly adventure set in 1950s Mississippi. The book breathes new life into the road trip story both with its inclusion of magical realism and with its memorable pairing of two teenagers Cassie, who's black, and Judith, who's white who have recently discovered that they have the same father. When Judith finds a letter explaining that they may be heirs to a rumored family fortune, she decides it's her chance to get enough money to run off to New York City to be a singer. And Cassie, who's destined to be matched with a white man by her black relatives, who are trying to whiten their family with each new generation of biracial offspring, realizes this may be her only opportunity to escape. They steal a car, and with a ham, a gun, and a map so old that state lines are blurred, they head north. Feldman's novel is about how even the sweetness of sisterhood isn't immune to poisonous racial dynamics. This warm story with two endearing leads offers a new frame of understanding for what it means to seek freedom, and what the seeker must give up in exchange.