May 2, 2023
Kelly McWilliams
Little Brown Young Readers (Hachette)
May 2, 2023
Young Adult Fiction
Hardcover, Ages 12 and up
Harriet Douglass lives with her historian father on an old plantation in Louisiana, which they’ve transformed into one of the South's few enslaved people’s museums. Together, while grieving the recent loss of Harriet’s mother, they run tours that help keep the past alive.
Harriet's world is turned upside down by the arrival of mother and daughter Claudia and Layla Hartwell—who plan to turn the property next door into a wedding venue and host the offensively antebellum-themed wedding of two Hollywood stars.

"An emotional exploration of the continued impact America's racist history has on contemporary society."

" [A] moving novel...McWilliams pens a touching story about grief, compassion for one's ancestors, and one teen's pursuit of justice in this thoughtfully rendered telling..."
-Publisher's Weekly
Themes: Black history, coming-of-age, grief, contemporary life, social media activism    
Dear Readers,

This is a story about history and what it means to us. Unfortunately, much of Black history has been systematically erased in this country--we see it in action, even today.

Historians have a term for the violence of that act of erasure: they call it "symbolic annihilation" And it does feel violent and painful to see plantations, sites of enormous suffering, turned into wedding and prom venues and bed and breakfasts.

As Harriet works to cancel the plantation wedding (and prom!) next door, however, she's also got to learn to take care of herself--to survive the hard work she plans to do all her life. So this book, as much as it's about history, is also about activism, and how we can each keep our inner fires alive. As a friendship blooms between Harriet and the girl next door, it's also about how we build bridges, becoming allies in each other's causes.

It's about how we can start to change the world by simply listening to each other.


Kelly McWilliams
Book Club Menu
Auntie Yates serves her special peach pies, but she doesn't always serve them sweet! In memory of her ancestors, who didn't have much sweetness in life, she bakes a "mournful" pie that's savory. At the end of the story, when she serves up a platter of food and drink for our characters, she puts sweet and savory pies side by side, symbolically recognizing both the good and the sorrowful aspects of life.

Serve a classically sweet Southern peach pie, or a savory peach pie, balanced out with some tomato!

For an easier day in the kitchen, you can also grill, roast, or otherwise cook peaches, for an easier recipe, salt one plate —with a dash of cinnamon— and drizzle syrup or sprinkle sugar over the other. Serve with iced tea!

Kelly McWilliams
Copyright The Book Club Cookbook 2023