Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Glow

Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli

Publication Date: March 15, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre:Historical fiction
Pages: Hardcover, 325pp
ISBN-13: 978-0670023318
ISBN: 0670023310

(Received for an honest review from Viking)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Jessica Maria Tucelli on the WEB: website, facebook

Excerpt from Glow


In the autumn of 1941, Amelia J. McGee, a young woman of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish descent, and an outspoken pamphleteer for the NAACP, hastily sends her daughter, Ella, alone on a bus home to Georgia in the middle of the night - a desperate measure that proves calamitous when the child encounters two drifters and is left for dead on the side of the road.

Ella awakens in the homestead of Willie Mae Cotton, a root doctor and former slave, and her partner, Mary-Mary Freeborn, tucked deep in the Takatoka Forest. As Ella heals, the secrets of her lineage are revealed.

Shot through with Cherokee lore and hoodoo conjuring, Glow transports us from Washington D.C., on the brink of World War II to the Blue Ridge frontier of 1836, from the parlors of antebellum manses to the plantation kitchens where girls are raised by women who stand in as mothers. As the land with all its promise and turmoil passes from one generation to the next, Ella's ancestral home turns from safe haven to mayhem and back again.

Jessica Maria Tuccelli reveals deep insight into individual acts that can transform a community and the ties that bind people together across immeasurable hardships and distances. Illuminating the tragedy of human frailty, the vitality of friendship and hope, and the fiercest of all bonds - mother love - the voices of Glow transcend their history with grace and splendor. 


Debut author Jessica Maria Tuccelli brings readers a tale spanning over 100 years. Glow, is a novel set in the Appalachian mountains of Georgia during the time between the Civil War and World War II. Tuccelli tackles some big issues including slavery and racial tensions. Her narrative style is very different and the point of view shifts between several characters, making this novel unique, but somewhat complicated. Tuccelli also introduces some super natural elements that give this novel an elusive and eerie quaility.

Glow is not necessarily a modern day ghost story. There have been few writers who could pull of using a ghost as an actual character in a literary novel, but Tucelli pulls it off well. Sharyn McCrumb, an Appalachian author that is a favorite of mine, is another author who has used this technique to add msytery and a sense of timelessness to her books. Lovelady Belle Young may be a ghost but her presence is defintiely felt in this novel. She appears to two of the main characters in the novel, Amelia and Ella, though many years apart. The parts of the novel that discuss her are almost lyrical. I enjoyed that part of the story, though in some cases I felt it didn't have a huge bearing on the outcome.

Most of Glow centers around the racial tensions in the South. Tuccelli uses the view points of several characters from mixed racial backgrounds including Native American, African American, and Scotch-Irish descent to bring out the information she wants the readers to have. The shifting viewpoints were somewhat confusing, just because of the sheer number of them and the fact that some voices are not heard for long periods of the book. However, I thought Tucelli really did well, writing each character. Their voices are distinct and different, from their dialog, to the pitch and cadence of their speech. The changes in view point just seemed a bit too much at times.

Glow follows the bloodline of Solomon Bounds and his descendants from the time of slavery all the way to World War II. It's amazing to me how much things have changed since that time and yet how much things are the same. We are still fighting some of the same battles that these characters were faced with, even in light having the first black president in the White House. Anyone who says that racial tension is not an issue anymore, has their head in the sand. And I am glad that there are books like Glow to help us remember.

There are a lot of great things about this book. The plot is intricate and well written. The historical details are well researched and the atmosphere is poignant and full of mysticism. Overall I liked it a lot. The changing view points were a small draw back but nothing that the story itself didn't make the reader overlook. I loved the characters, the lyrical quaility of the prose and the fact that the author still managed to give the novel some humor and a overall positive outlook. Great first effort! I'm looking forward to more from Tuccelli.

Glow is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Jessica Maria Tuccelli spent three summers trekking through northeastern Georgia, soaking up its ghost stories and folklore. A graduate of MIT with a degree in anthropology, she lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. Glow is her first novel.


BurtonReview said...

This one is on my wishlist already. Seems like I need to move it up..

Karen B said...

I've read such good things about GLOW and it's on my wish list, too. Sounds like a fascinating read.


ann said...

Historical fiction - right up my alley of reading material - thanks for the chance to win
amhengst at verizon dot net

Carol N Wong said...

So excited to have a chance to win this book. My first husband was Scotch-Irish and 1/4 Cherokee so I would love to send this to my son after I read it. It is already sitting on my wishing list and hoping!


Martha Lawson said...

This books sounds really interesting! My great grandmother was Cherokee, so I'd love to read this one. Thanks for the giveaway.

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Sue Farrell said...

I like historical books about the old South---Thanks for writing one that I think I'll really enjoy.