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A Kind of Freedom

A Novel

List Price: $26.00

ON SALE: August 8, 2017 | Hardcover | 6 x 9, 256 Pages | ISBN 9781619029224

“In A Kind of Freedom, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton delivers a fresh and unflinching portrait of African American life and establishes herself as a new and much-needed voices in literature.  Vividly imagined and boldly told, A Kind of Freedom is a book for our time. A fierce and courageous debut.” —Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar

Evelyn is a Creole woman who comes of age in New Orleans at the height of World War II. Her family inhabits the upper echelon of Black society and when she falls for Renard, she is forced to choose between her life of privilege and the man she loves.

In 1982, Evelyn’s daughter, Jackie, is a frazzled single mother grappling with her absent husband’s drug addiction. Just as she comes to terms with his abandoning the family, he returns, ready to resume their old life. Jackie must decide if the promise of her husband is worth the near certainty he’ll leave again. Jackie’s son, T.C., loves the creative process of growing marijuana more than the weed itself. He finds something hypnotic about training the seedlings, testing the levels, trimming the leaves, drying the buds. He was a square before Hurricane Katrina, but the New Orleans he knew didn’t survive the storm. But fresh out of a four-month stint for drug charges, T.C. decides to start over—until an old friend convinces him to stake his new beginning on one last deal.

For Evelyn, Jim Crow is an ongoing reality, and in its wake new threats spring up to haunt her descendants. A Kind of Freedom is an urgent novel that explores the legacy of racial disparity in the South through a poignant and redemptive family history.

Born and raised in New Orleans, MARGARET WILKERSON SEXTON studied creative writing at Dartmouth and law at UC Berkeley. A recipient of the Lombard fellowship, she spent a year in the Dominican Republic working for a civil rights organization and writing A Kind of Freedom, her debut novel. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her stories have been published or are forthcoming in Grey Sparrow Journal, Limestone Journal, and Broad! Magazine. She lives in the Bay Area, California.

Praise

 

“This emotionally wrenching, character-rich debut spans three generations in a city deeply impacted by segregation, economic inequality, and racial tensions . . . Sexton’s narrative navigates complex topics with an adroit sensitivity that lends sympathy to each character’s realistic, if occasionally self-destructive, motivations. Being able to capture 70 years of New Orleans history and the emotional changes in one family in such a short book is a testament to Sexton’s powers of descriptive restraint. In this fine debut, each generation comes with new possibilities and deferred dreams blossoming with the hope that this time, finally, those dreams may come to fruition.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“In A Kind of Freedom, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton delivers a fresh and unflinching portrait of African American life and establishes herself as a new and much-needed voices in literature.  Vividly imagined and boldly told, A Kind of Freedom is a book for our time. A fierce and courageous debut.” —Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar

“Margaret Wilkerson’s A Kind of Freedom is a brilliant mosaic of an African American family and a love song to New Orleans. Her characters are all of us, America’s family, written with deep insight and devastating honesty but also with grace and beauty. Wilkerson’s stunning debut illuminates the journey of sisters and the generations they bear, the hope they have for the future, and the future still strived for, still deferred, giving us all of this in razor-edged prose that is cuts to the quick.” —Dana Johnson, author of In the Not Quite Dark and Elsewhere, California

“I give thanks to Margaret Wilkerson Sexton for her remarkable sense of a family’s life, from early in its morning to day’s end.  She interweaves generations of parent-child relations to reveal, with sharp insight, how promise and possibility can sometimes yield to circumstances shaped by the limits to freedom.”—Lauret Savoy, author of Trace

“Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s A Kind of Freedom is an elegant, captivating, and generous debut novel. I’m still thinking about how our choices are indelibly influenced by our familial histories, whether we’re aware or not, and how the present connects to the past, especially regarding the societal weight of race and class. Through the interweaving of narratives within a family in New Orleans, particularly a matrilineal generation of sisters—from 1944 to the 80s and beyond—Wilkerson Sexton demonstrates the complex web of fate, and how the demands and risks of human longing can be pitted against practicality and upward mobility, muddying the very definitions of success when it comes to survival and love. Our lives are intertwined, Wilkerson Sexton reveals, and despite our best selves and our most loving intentions, heartbreak is often inevitable. With seemingly effortless subtlety and command, Wilkerson Sexton delivers. A Kind of Freedom is multifaceted and beautiful.” —Victoria Patterson, author of This Vacant Paradise and The Little Brother

“I loved the different generations in A Kind of Freedom, beginning with the parents of Evelyn and Ruby, who seem so proper and clean, to present-generation T.C., a very likable, hopeful character, but one whose circumstances involve him in drugs and prison. I found the evolution of the family to the present day sad but fascinating, and I couldn’t help but root for every single character. In the end, you still feel hopeful in spite of it all.” —Margot Farris, bookseller, pages: a bookstore (Manhattan Beach, CA)

“This is a remarkable book, covering three generations of a Creole family in New Orleans. In the ’40s of World War II, Evelyn falls in love with a poor but striving boy and has to manage her family’s expectations to become her own person. In the ’80s, her daughter, Jackie, navigates how to trust her husband, a recovering crack addict who returns to her life when their son is still an infant. And in the post-Katrina New Orleans of 2010, Jackie’s son, T.C., emerges from prison to try to make something of himself in the eyes of his family and his pregnant girlfriend, only to find the system and old friends from the neighborhood make it hard to pull himself up. Despite the systemic oppression the characters face, they have hope; even though I was infuriated at the cycles of poverty, drug abuse, and imprisonment, I couldn’t help but root for the characters in Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s glorious debut.” —Jamie Thomas, bookseller, Women & Children First (Chicago, IL)

“Superb read! A compassionately told story of four generations in one American family who endure the unpredictable challenges of our rapidly changing society. Bound together through blood ties and love, Sexton’s keenly drawn characters sweep you into a mesmerizing cascade of loss and triumph.” —Carol Cassella, author of OxygenHealer, and Gemini

“Here’s the thing about this debut: while the story Margaret Wilkerson Sexton tells of three generations in New Orleans is absolutely brilliant, the prose so beautiful at times I underlined phrases, what is most remarkable are the parts that she didn’t include. It takes great skill to satisfy a reader and also leave them puzzling over the untold parts. Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s A Kind of Freedom is quietly epic. I dare you to not fall in love with Evelyn, Jackie, and T.C. (And I’m secretly waiting for the film rights to be sold; it would be a brilliant movie, if done right!)” —Rachel Watkins, bookseller, Avid Bookshop (Athens, GA)
“Sexton subtly lays bare the ever-present societal forces at work to undermine black success and family.” —The Huffington Post, 1 of 24 Incredible Books to Add to Your Shelf This Summer

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