When she discovers her son has designs to sell her home out from under her, Miss Amethyst-ninety-three years old and as sharp as ever-isn't about to let her legacy go. She pins her hopes on her granddaughter, Little Am, a good-natured child who has mutated in her teenage years into something else altogether. Whatever it takes, Little Am will know that the Noble family heritage is worth fighting for.
Stokes (The Blue Bottle Club) offers an earnest but predictable Christian novel chronicling six generations of the Noble family of Cambridge, Miss. At age 93, Amethyst Noble, fighting to save her family home from a greedy and shiftless son, recounts the family history for her great-granddaughter. Her story begins in the antebellum era, when Silas Noble, a young white doctor from Baltimore, comes to Mississippi fresh from medical school and is won over to the abolitionist cause. Befriending a slave called Booker, he helps the man and his family escape to freedom during the Civil War. Silas and his wife, Pearl, like their granddaughter Amethyst, are too good to be true, and their long, preachy speeches make the eyes glaze over. The narrative skirts historical melodrama: as Booker is planning his escape, Harriet Tubman materializes to guide his family to freedom, and when Amethyst fights her own "good fight" for civil rights nearly a century later, an adolescent Martin Luther King Jr. shows up at a local rally and solemnly announces, "This is my calling." Stokes orchestrates some touching moments, and Amethyst is a likable (though unrealistically pious) protagonist, but the excess of sentiment makes for a predictable denouement.