Perish : A NovelBy
From a stunning new voice, comes a powerful and moving debut novel and sweeping family saga, PERISH, about a Black Texan family, exploring the effects of inherited trauma and intragenerational violence as the family comes together to say goodbye to their matriarch on her deathbed.
Bear it or Perish. Those are the words Helen Jean hears that fateful night in her cousin’s outhouse that changes the trajectory of her life.
Spanning decades, PERISH tracks the choices Helen Jean—the matriarch of the Turner family—makes and the way those choices have ripped across generations, from her children, to her grandchildren and beyond.
Told in in alternate chapters that follows four members of the Turner clan: Julie B., a woman who regrets her wasted youth and the time spent under Helen Jean's thumb; Alex, a police officer grappling with a dark and twisted past; Jan, mother of two, who yearns to go to school and leave Jerusalem and all of its trauma behind for good; and Lydia, a woman whose marriage is falling apart because her body can't seem to stay pregnant; as they're called home to say goodbye to their mother and grandmother.
This family's "reunion" unearths long-kept secrets and forces each member to ask themselves important questions about who is deserving of forgiveness and who bears the cross of blame.
With stirring, evocative prose and a sense of place that is wholly immersive, offering a nuanced look into Black communities in Texas, and tackling themes like family, trauma, legacy, home, class, race and more, this beautiful yet heart-wrenching debut novel, will appeal to anyone who is interested in the intricacies of family and the ways bonds can be made, maintained or irrevocably broken.
By Latoya Watkins