Reviewed by Alysia George

Characters from several generations combine their voices and stories to form the epic novel Glow, by Jessica Maria Tuccelli. Their personal histories run amidst the days of slavery, the Civil War, the turn of the 20th century, and all the way up to the time just before World War II. Turn by turn, they tell of love, heartache, family, social injustice, and supernatural gifts.

In 1941, a young girl named Ella is sent on a train to Georgia but never reaches her destination. She is attacked and left on the side of the road, where two old women find her and take her home. When Ella’s mother, back in Washington D.C., realizes something is amiss, she heads back to her hometown in Georgia to find her daughter and get to the bottom of the situation. As she travels south she is immersed in memories of her childhood. Here the book starts shifting, chapter by chapter, between Ella’s point of view and her mother Amelia’s.

Pretty soon Willie Mae Cotton, one of the women who rescues Ella, begins a narrative of her own. A few other characters have the chance to tell their stories as well. This could get confusing quickly, especially because the chapters dip and maneuver throughout 100 years of history, but the beginning of each chapter is labeled with the name of the character who is currently in the narrator seat. Also there is a very helpful family tree at the beginning of the book, which I referred to frequently as I read.

Glow is rich in southern history and character detail. Reading about topics such as slavery and Ku Klux Klan lynchings from several different view points provides a unique vantage point. Because there are several narrators, all from the same town and dealing with the same families throughout different points in history, the reader gains a better understanding of the bigger picture. This is a book that requires diligent attention, but it’s worth the effort.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Alysia lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and four children. She writes about family life, parenting issues, and other things of interest to her on her blog, Michigal.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Viking Adult. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.