About The Accidentals
• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 13, 2019)
Following the death of their mother from a botched backwoods abortion, the McAlister daughters have to cope with the ripple effect of this tragedy as they come of age in 1950s Mississippi and then grow up to face their own impossible choices—an unforgettable, beautiful novel that is threaded throughout with the stories of mothers and daughters in pre-Roe versus Wade America.
Life heads down back alleys, takes sharp left turns. Then, one fine day it jumps the track and crashes.”
In the fall of 1957, Olivia McAlister is living in Opelika, Mississippi, caring for her two girls, June and Grace, and her husband, Holly. She dreams of living a much larger life–seeing the world and returning to her wartime job at a landing boat factory in New Orleans. As she watches over the birds in her yard, Olivia feels like an “accidental”—a migratory bird blown off course.
When Olivia becomes pregnant again, she makes a fateful decision, compelling Grace, June, and Holly to cope in different ways. While their father digs up the backyard to build a bomb shelter, desperate to protect his family, Olivia’s spinster sister tries to take them all under her wing. But the impact of Olivia’s decision reverberates throughout Grace’s and June’s lives. Grace, caught up in an unconventional love affair, becomes one of the “girls who went away” to have a baby in secret. June, guilt-ridden for her part in exposing Grace’s pregnancy, eventually makes an unhappy marriage. Meanwhile Ed Mae Johnson, an African-American care worker in a New Orleans orphanage, is drastically impacted by Grace’s choices.
As the years go by, their lives intersect in ways that reflect the unpredictable nature of bird flight that lands in accidental locations—and the consolations of imperfect return.
Filled with tragedy, humor, joy, and the indomitable strength of women facing the constricted spaces of the 1950s and 60s, The Accidentals is a poignant, timely novel that reminds us of the hope and consolation that can be found in unexpected landings.
I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.
Can we just take a moment to admire that cover? I mean, is it not absolutely gorgeous?! I personally think so and that’s what initially caught my eye about this book (and I am, as a general rule, not a cover person). But then I read the blurb and I was sold. I had a great feeling going into this book.
And for the most part, it definitely lived up to the expectations I had set for it. It made me realize just how thankful I should be for being a woman in the time period that I am now rather than in the 1950s. I mean … just yikes. What women had to go through and deal with during that time period. It’s definitely eye-opening for sure.
However, the book wasn’t entirely perfect. I sometimes felt like it jumped here and there when it could have had better “flow” I guess you could say. Maybe a little disjointed even? But oh the character development! My long-time readers know that I am a sucker for good character development and this particular book had that in spades! It definitely made me want to keep reading!
I probably set the bar a little too high on this book and that’s why I felt a little disappointed in spots, but for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would definitely recommend it!
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About Minrose Gwin
Minrose Gwin is the author of The Queen of Palmyra, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick and finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Book Award, and the memoir Wishing for Snow, cited by Booklist as “eloquent” and “lyrical”—“a real life story we all need to know.” She has written four scholarly books and coedited The Literature of the American South. She grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, hearing stories of the Tupelo tornado of 1936. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Find out more about Minrose at her website.