Title/Author: The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
In a nutshell (Publisher):
“[A] stunning new novel . . . Sexton’s writing is clear and uncluttered, the dialogue authentic, with all the cadences of real speech… This is a novel about the women, the mothers.” ―New York Times Book Review
“A powerful tale of racial tensions across generations.” —People
In 1924, Josephine is the proud owner of a thriving farm. As a child, she channeled otherworldly power to free herself from slavery. Now her new neighbor, a white woman named Charlotte, seeks her company, and an uneasy friendship grows between them. But Charlotte has also sought solace in the Ku Klux Klan, a relationship that jeopardizes Josephine’s family.
Nearly one hundred years later, Josephine’s descendant, Ava, is a single mother who has just lost her job. She moves in with her white grandmother, Martha, a wealthy but lonely woman who pays Ava to be her companion. But Martha’s behavior soon becomes erratic, then threatening, and Ava must escape before her story and Josephine’s converge.
The Revisioners explores the depths of women’s relationships—powerful women and marginalized women, healers and survivors. It is a novel about the bonds between mothers and their children, the dangers that upend those bonds. At its core, The Revisioners ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope, and the undying promise of freedom.
Verdict: I’m adding this to my must-read of the year!
Three strong, resilient women whose lives are connected through their family and stories spanned over a century, are told through Ava and her great-great-great grandmother Josephine – Josephine’s life as a slave in Louisiana in 1855, then 1924 as a landowner; and Ava, in 2017, a biracial single mother, who lost her job recently, decided to take up the offer of her ailing white grandmother to keep her company and care for her, despite knowing her mother, Gladys would object, but Ava was optimistic. She dreamed of building her life with her son, with the money that Grandmother Martha would be paying her.
What a great story, and even more amazing storytelling! Sexton tied and connected the stories of these 3 women flawlessly; told us their lives, showed us their strengths and weaknesses, and how they grew as individuals despite the challenges they faced as single black women, both in the present and past. Reading Ava’s story while comparing it to Josephine’s felt as though they were living parallel lives. There were parts where both Josephine and Ava were experiencing or facing the same things in their lives simultaneously. It felt like there was a ‘force’ that pulled them into one linear story. I’m not sure if that was the author’s intention, but whatever it was, I loved it.
Despite being a century apart, the women faced the same prejudices – Ava being treated like a housemaid by her grandmother Martha, Josephine with her neighbor Charlotte who joined the Klan; both Grandmother Martha and Charlotte both insisted they were different from others and didn’t see themselves as racist.
Throughout the story, there was also a woman who spoke to them in their thoughts, whose identity wouldn’t be revealed until the very end when all of it came to a full circle. Making and realizing that connection was so satisfying! There was definitely a ‘Wow!’ moment. Pause. Then ‘Wow!’ again.
There were also some elements of magic, which I loved. Josephine was a conjurer whose mother was the leader of a group called the Revisioners. Her mother had the gift of seeing, was able to make wishes come true by envisioning them, thus helping some of them escape their masters. And this ability didn’t stop here, as we see that Ava and her mom, Gladys have their own special talent too, especially Ava, who just knew what and when to say, and what to do to help women through their pregnancies, without much help from her mother who had had years of experience.
While this novel touched on many issues like motherhood, family, love and loss, it centered around racism in the past and present.
This novel made me ponder, how much have we learned from our past? Why is racism still so prevalent today? Those who face it will forever have to bear its burden. Is this ever going to end?Tweet
If you loved The Water Dancer, you’re absolutely going to fall in love with The Revisioners. Now, I want to read A Kind of Freedom!
Thank you Counterpoint LLC, for gifting me this book, or I’d have missed this incredibly powerful book!
Have you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to? Please share with me your thoughts!