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Mulberry


a novel

 

"Looking back to that fall day, I want to say that I noted something in the tone of his voice that wasn't especially convincing, or that I had a feeling of some kind. But all I can say with certainty is that when I walked into the house with Daddy behind me and saw the look of relief that flashed across my mother's face, and listened to the happy greetings the boys showered on Daddy, I had no idea how a world could shift on its axis in a way no one expected, making normal impossible to find."

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Mulberry


a novel

 

"Looking back to that fall day, I want to say that I noted something in the tone of his voice that wasn't especially convincing, or that I had a feeling of some kind. But all I can say with certainty is that when I walked into the house with Daddy behind me and saw the look of relief that flashed across my mother's face, and listened to the happy greetings the boys showered on Daddy, I had no idea how a world could shift on its axis in a way no one expected, making normal impossible to find."

grown enough

A young girl growing up in small-town segregated Mississippi in the 1960s, Maddy Culpepper's life is calm and  ordinary. In spite of being raised in a working poor family, she has lived an insular life in a family held together by the strength and wits of her mother. But life begins to crumble when her mother abandons the home to tend to her youngest child, an infant who is hospitalized. Maddy and her three young brothers are left in the care of their father, a veteran possessed by a tragic family secret. As he slides into an alcohol-soaked world of guilt and shame, Maddy must take on responsibilities no child should face and becomes a force to contend with in her own right.

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to live


"Going back into our house was like stepping into a melted photograph. Everything was swathed in shades of gray and black. The hairs on the back of my neck tingled, and my nostrils burned from the acrid smell of the burnt walls and my family’s possessions..."

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to live


"Going back into our house was like stepping into a melted photograph. Everything was swathed in shades of gray and black. The hairs on the back of my neck tingled, and my nostrils burned from the acrid smell of the burnt walls and my family’s possessions..."

I have always been a storyteller.

Growing up in Mississippi if someone said, “You’re telling a story,” by story she meant an elaborate, embellished lie dressed up to look like truth. I was full of stories, even back then. They poured out as I walked home with friends from school and flowed through my head as I lay on my back in my yard watching the stars when the world was asleep.

I honed my skills by listening. Eavesdropping on my mother and her friends as they straightened each other's hair in the kitchen or shelled peas on the porch, I listened to them narrate the events of their lives to each other. I listened to the stories they concocted to teach us lessons in life. And I read every kind of story I could get my hands on, from fairy tales to my mother’s Book-of-the-Month Club selections to the 300-page classics I checked out from the library in spite of the librarian who couldn't resist raising an eyebrow at me over the rim of her cat-eye glasses. 

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WITHOUT


"My mother’s body began to shake, and the grief trapped inside her chest rumbled in my ears like distant thunder."

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WITHOUT


"My mother’s body began to shake, and the grief trapped inside her chest rumbled in my ears like distant thunder."