Knee-Deep in Wonder: A Novel

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9780312423612: Knee-Deep in Wonder: A Novel

â Whoâ re your people, girl?â In August, 1976, Helene Strickland returns home to Lafayette County, Arkansas, determined to learn the answer, but her probing only uncovers greater mysteries.

April Reynoldsâ s mesmerizing narrative seamlessly weaves flashbacks and voices to produce an epic account of one family crippled by the deepest wounds of the black South, introducing a bold and distinct talent.

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About the Author:

April Reynolds teaches philosophy and creative writing at New York University and lives in New York City. Knee-Deep in Wonder, her first novel, received a Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Award for unpublished work.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From Knee Deep in Wonder:

Sweets was a drifter, twenty years old with no luggage or steady job. By 1914, he had traveled from Tennessee to as far as Oklahoma and Arizona, claiming to have taught the great Bill Pickett everything he knew. Any grandmother could see he was no good, but who could tell that to a girl of seventeen with no people of her own? She heard him first, whistling lightly in the full-grown corn—the sound pricked her ear and she stood up, pushing apart the tall stalks; then she saw him, strolling toward her, his jacket tucked beneath his arm, the corn seeming to move out of his way. He came closer and she dropped the basket she carried, swaying at his nearness. When he stood only a pace away, he sang her hello. Her laughter made him bolder and he took her hand, rubbing her thumb. "Who is you?"

She thought and thought, unsure of what to say, waiting for him to see the blank space of her dilemma and fill it with the name of an old lover, perhaps.

"Girl, you hear me? What's your name?"

She looked past his shoulder. "Lord, Lord, Lord," she panted. She waited for an answer that would not break her heart or her back. Then she had it. Like a ripe peach, ready to drop, the name fell into her lap, beautiful, free of soft spots. The sound of her name almost made her knees buckle.

"Liberty, my name is Liberty."

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