Sitting in St. James
by Williams-Garcia, Rita






The three-time National Book Award finalist and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author of One Crazy Summer follows a woman's reflections on the intertwined lives of masters and slaves throughout 60 years on an antebellum American plantation. 100,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.





*Starred Review* The year is 1860, and Madame Sylvie Guilbert of La Petite Cottage in Louisiana is hell-bent on sitting for a portrait-it's the least she expects after the life she has been forced to live. Having no luck in securing her own social and financial standing, she instead has spent her time working to ensure the futures of her son and grandson, who have their own plans and desires, which have ultimately resulted in the demise of their family's land. Together, three generations of Guilberts work against the backdrop of their family plantation, where stories of the big house and the fields alike are unveiled, revealing the not-so-segregated reality of Guilbert's expansive family. Equal parts history and tantalizing, chaotic drama, Williams-Garcia's stunning novel delivers a fresh and nuanced approach to the tale of American slavery, which directly asks white folks, "Who were you without enslaved people and slavery? What are you without racism?" This shift away from the brutalization and abuse of Black bodies does not lessen the perceived severity of slavery, but, rather, focuses on the burgeoning American (read: white) identity and the tensions amid various cultural, regional, and national divides. Though the subject matter is particularly heavy at times (including descriptions of rape), as a whole, this is compelling in its ability to wrap readers in rich threads of family, romance, and the vibrant history of Creole Louisiana, and the depth of its characters will occupy space in readers' minds well beyond the final page. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling, award-winning Williams-Garcia's return to YA, particularly with a book as monumental as this, is definite cause for celebration. Grades 10-12. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





*Starred Review* The year is 1860, and Madame Sylvie Guilbert of La Petite Cottage in Louisiana is hell-bent on sitting for a portrait-it's the least she expects after the life she has been forced to live. Having no luck in securing her own social and financial standing, she instead has spent her time working to ensure the futures of her son and grandson, who have their own plans and desires, which have ultimately resulted in the demise of their family's land. Together, three generations of Guilberts work against the backdrop of their family plantation, where stories of the big house and the fields alike are unveiled, revealing the not-so-segregated reality of Guilbert's expansive family. Equal parts history and tantalizing, chaotic drama, Williams-Garcia's stunning novel delivers a fresh and nuanced approach to the tale of American slavery, which directly asks white folks, "Who were you without enslaved people and slavery? What are you without racism?" This shift away from the brutalization and abuse of Black bodies does not lessen the perceived severity of slavery, but, rather, focuses on the burgeoning American (read: white) identity and the tensions amid various cultural, regional, and national divides. Though the subject matter is particularly heavy at times (including descriptions of rape), as a whole, this is compelling in its ability to wrap readers in rich threads of family, romance, and the vibrant history of Creole Louisiana, and the depth of its characters will occupy space in readers' minds well beyond the final page. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling, award-winning Williams-Garcia's return to YA, particularly with a book as monumental as this, is definite cause for celebration. Grades 10-12. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





An unblinking view into plantation life in the Deep South. At first glance this epic seems to be focused on the ups and downs of the Guilbert family, slaveholders living in the Louisiana parish of St. James whose legacy is protected by 80-year-old matriarch Madame Sylvie Bernardin de Maret Dacier Guilbert. However, Williams-Garcia doesn‚??t stop in the salons and sitting rooms; she brings readers into the cabins and cookhouses of enslaved people whose perceived invisibility gives them access to ideas and knowledge that empower them in ways that few fiction writers have examined. Sixteen-year-old Thisbe is the personal servant to Madame Guilbert‚?"treated like a pet and beaten with a hairbrush for the smallest alleged slight. Her narrative to liberation is intricately webbed within the story of the Guilberts. Thisbe‚??s silence helps her acquire the language to affirm her humanity to those who would deny it. With a cast of characters whose assorted genealogies feel like an ode to the mixing of peoples and cultures in Louisiana, this story broadens and emboldens interrogations of U.S. chattel slavery. Williams-Garcia‚??s meticulous research processes shout volumes about the importance of taking contemporary inspiration into the archives to unearth sorely needed truths as we continue to navigate questions of equity and justice for the descendants of enslaved people. A marathon masterpiece that shares a holistic portrait of U.S. history that must not be dismissed or forgotten. (author's note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 15-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





An unblinking view into plantation life in the Deep South. At first glance this epic seems to be focused on the ups and downs of the Guilbert family, slaveholders living in the Louisiana parish of St. James whose legacy is protected by 80-year-old matriarch Madame Sylvie Bernardin de Maret Dacier Guilbert. However, Williams-Garcia doesn‚??t stop in the salons and sitting rooms; she brings readers into the cabins and cookhouses of enslaved people whose perceived invisibility gives them access to ideas and knowledge that empower them in ways that few fiction writers have examined. Sixteen-year-old Thisbe is the personal servant to Madame Guilbert‚?"treated like a pet and beaten with a hairbrush for the smallest alleged slight. Her narrative to liberation is intricately webbed within the story of the Guilberts. Thisbe‚??s silence helps her acquire the language to affirm her humanity to those who would deny it. With a cast of characters whose assorted genealogies feel like an ode to the mixing of peoples and cultures in Louisiana, this story broadens and emboldens interrogations of U.S. chattel slavery. Williams-Garcia‚??s meticulous research processes shout volumes about the importance of taking contemporary inspiration into the archives to unearth sorely needed truths as we continue to navigate questions of equity and justice for the descendants of enslaved people. A marathon masterpiece that shares a holistic portrait of U.S. history that must not be dismissed or forgotten. (author's note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 15-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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