Following in the footsteps of Toni Morrison and the early Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper editor Phyllis Alsesia Perry makes her fiction debut with a stunningly assured novel about a young girl who is brought to the brink of madness by the physical manifestations of past lives. Lizzie DuBose is 14 years old in 1974 when she inherits a mysterious trunk from a grandmother she has never met. In the trunk is a diary and a hand-stitched quilt that bring much of her family's troubled history to light, from her ancestor Ayo's passage to America aboard a slave ship to the traumatic secret that forced her grandmother Grace to abandon her children in Alabama. Gradually the past comes to life for Lizzie in dreams, visions, and the livid stigmata of slavery -- wounds like those made by iron manacles that appear on her wrists and ankles. But are Lizzie's wounds self-inflicted or the result of possession by the unquiet spirits of her ancestors?
Strikingly well conceived and well written...engaging from the opening page to its conclusion. Perry weaves the multiple dimensions of history, slavery, and sanity into a coherent and readable whole.