I turned and faced the road we'd come down, my face hard and set. The kids moved on without me. I could still see a slight glow and the murky, gray smoke reaching above the trees, where it spread to the south....
When I thought they were out of earshot, I took a deep breath. "You lied to me," I whispered toward the building, to all the people it represented, to the hours I'd spent on those hard, split-log seats, and to my childish epiphanies born there .... "You lied," I said. "These are my best friends now."
Rare is the gift of a writer who is able to conjure up the voices of very different worlds, to give them heat and power and make them sing. Such is the talent of Nancy E. Turner. Her beloved first novel, These Is My Words, opened readers to the challenges of a woman's life in the nineteenth-century Southwest. Now this extraordinary writer shifts her gaze to a very different world -- East Texas in the years of the Second World War -- and to the life of a young woman named Philadelphia Summers, known against her will as Frosty.
From the novel's harrowing opening scene, Frosty's eyes survey the landscape around her -- white rural America -- with the awestruck clarity of an innocent burned by sin. In her mother and sisters she sees fear and small-mindedness; in the eyes of local boys she sees racial hatred and hunger for war. When that war finally comes, it offers her a chance for escape -to California, and the caring arms of Gordon Benally a Native-American soldier. But when she returns to Texas she must face the rejection of a town still gripped by suspicion -- and confront the memory of the crime that has marked her soul since adolescence.
Propelled by the quiet power of one woman's voice, The Water and the Blood is a moving and unforgettable portrait of an America of haunted women and dangerous fools -- an America at once long perished and with us still.
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Nancy E. Turner's first novel, These Is My Words, was the winner of the Arizona Author Award, and a finalist for the 1999 Willa Gather Award. Turner lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her family.From Publishers Weekly:
Turner, the 2001 finalist for the Willa Cather Award (These Is My Words), mesmerizes once again with an East Texas period piece, starring a young heroine who struggles to escape her abusive mother and smalltown limitations. "We set fire to the Nigra church after the Junior-Senior Halloween costume party": unknown to all but one in a motley group of high school friends, this apparently thoughtless act of vandalism in 1942 Sabine, Tex., hides a darker evil that will haunt them all. Philadelphia "Frosty" Summers was there that night, but the lonely girl whose impoverished family had moved seven times in two years said nothing, even though the congregation of that church, the Missionary Way Evangelicle [sic] Temple, had befriended and supported her. Sheriff John Moultrie's efforts to identify the perpetrators, whose innocent "prank" obscures a murder, weave throughout this coming-of-age WWII tale. Narrator Frosty anchors this portrait of repressive Southern religious dogma, racial bigotry, poverty and cruel ignorance. After graduation, Frosty escapes the confines of Sabine by convincing her parents she must travel to southern California to work in a factory to help the war effort. While there she meets and falls in love with Gordon Benally, a Navajo Indian Marine radio operator who is recuperating from wounds received while a POW. Meanwhile, Marty Haliburton, who instigated the long-ago high school "prank," is now the pastor of Frosty's church in Sabine and a member of the KKK. When Frosty and Gordon visit her family, Gordon is judged "colored" and Marty and others try to kill him. Turner's Frosty is a sympathetic young woman, and the supporting characters are vivid and realistic. This beaautifully written portrait of Southern religious repression and racism is a winner.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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