From a cosmopolitan family are beget descendants who are stolen for
slavery in the American South, bringing dear reader to Fammy, who
begets Clora by a black man because she wanted a black baby for her
own, after enduring her master’s rapes and the selling of her
children. She takes her life, as does Clora, when she envisions the
future of her daughter Always. Yet Clora persists as a spiritual
entity, watching her family throughout their lives. This is the story
of Always, unable to follow her siblings in their escape by passing
for white, who rises above her veneer of subjugation, fully prepared
to live free after emancipation. Clora witnesses her family branch
out again across the globe.
presents the vicarious existence of slaves, and the various ways that
could procure a safer passage, as well as the intricately convoluted
familial connections betwixt white masters / mistresses and slaves.
The hint of dialect bumps through both races, showing the blending of
cultures based on proximity, and religion also bleeds across the
barriers, represented by Clora’s routine references to the
Christian God. This novel offers a valuable lesson in how the
foundation for systemic racism was laid and on what our country was
built, in spite of the whitewashed American dream. Read it with a
careful eye toward the small references and unspoken understandings
Surgeon Avinash Singh loses a child during surgery to heart failure caused by a new virus. Having accepted always being the best at everything he does, this harsh reality devastates him. His nurse Martha, a second mother in his adopted country, tells him to find a way to deal with it and get back to work. He seeks resolution in the journal of his ancestry given to him by his grandfather. He reads of Khau, the Lion of Bihar, a 13th-century warrior ancestor, who must find a way to save Bihar from the Mongols. Those barbarians destroy everything in their path, because they are unbeatable archers on horseback. Khau determines their weakness and defeats them. The inspirational story motivates Avinash to develop a cure. From this breakthrough, Avinash receives two offers: a position at a coveted medical center in NYC and a chance to offer his skills to a humanitarian effort. He returns to the journal to learn about Veeresh, the leader of his people who did not break under torture by the East India Company’s best “negotiator.” From this lesson, Avi knows he must follow his heart. On this path, he finds true love and faces a challenge that calls out to his warrior blood.
This historical fiction carries more than one lesson within it’s dual timeline. It reads like folklore with a moral to the story. Told alternately through the contemporary life of a brilliant surgeon and a journal of his ancestry, it weaves from one to the other seamlessly. The authors repeatedly mention the diversity of religions in the stories of Avi and his ancestors, and they use the different religious lingo interchangeably to emphasize tolerance. The main takeaway seems to be, however, that you should be yourself and keep moving forward in service to others, using your god-given talents without fear.
I received a digital copy of this wonderful story from one of the authors.