Cover Image: The Peach Seed

The Peach Seed

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Member Reviews

When visiting his local grocery store in South Georgia, Fletcher sees a familiar face – a woman he loved intensely, until they were driven apart by outside forces. Before they split, he gifted her a small monkey carved from a peach seed, a family talisman that is passed down from father to son in his family. As Fletcher’s past begins to haunt him, he begins to realize he isn’t the only one burdened by unspoken truths.

This story follows several characters and their struggles, from Fletcher’s lost love to a character’s struggles with addiction and another character’s search for his birth parents.

The narrative is wending, using flashbacks to explore the history of the peach seed talisman and its importance to the family then shifting to the present-day timeline of the characters. I was hoping there would be more of a focus on the historical timeline and the ancestors as they passed down the talisman. Due to the inclusion of so many characters and their stories, I understand why this couldn’t be the case. But I think this did lead to a few issues I had with this one.

For one thing, the character development was a little weak. The characters in the historical timeline did not feel strong or compellingly written to me. I liked the portrayal of the family and their relationships in the present timeline, and those characters were easier to connect to, but they often got lost in the exposition. The book also felt too long, and there were many instances where I lost interest and had to wait to come back to the book.

This slower literary historical fiction was decently written overall and explores themes of family, racism, and emotional heritage. My thanks to NetGalley and Henry Holt and Company for allowing me to read this work. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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Really enjoyed this family saga although it started a tad bit slow and took me a minute to fully understand what was going on.

I loved the character development and could see my own family & our trauma in the Dukes. I can’t wait to read more from Miss Anita.

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There's a lot to love here - generational family drama, the effects of the transatlantic slave trade and how they linger through generations, and wonderful writing and characters. It's a beautiful tribute to this family that I really enjoyed overall.

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I really enjoyed this multigenerational tale by first time author Anita Gail Jones. The characters were well written though there are a lot of them to keep straight in the different timelines. All in all a good read!
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion. The Peach Seed is available now.

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Fletcher Dukes and Altovise Benson shared a youthful love nearly fifty years ago, will a secret unravel their chance for a loving life together?

This novel follows the Duke family and the dynamics of their family over a span of generations. I was excited once I read the excerpt and was looking forward to reading about the Dukes family male tradition. What a wonderful idea to follow the first peach seed talisman and how its inheritance was passed down through generations. I enjoyed the story however felt that the author was doing too much and there were too many storylines and backstories that watered down such a good story. I was left wondering what was the main story?

For example, the enslaved story of Malik Wele’ did not quite fit nor really tie in to the current day family event. Malik’s story could have been a quick explanation of how the tradition started. Then there was the backstory of Fletcher Dukes and Altovise Benson along with the other parts of the novel that included Bo D’s story about his battle with drug addiction and there was Siman Miller discovering and connecting with his biological family.

The story only seemed to focus on specific family members, not much story was provided on Georgia and Mozell. It was understood that Fletcher had remorse at not having boys to continue the family tradition but the names were odd, Fletcher’s children called him Ourdaddy and Fletcher’s nickname for his daughter’s were son.

Not sure what purposed was served including so much talk about the Albany Civil Rights Movement, and that the family helped with the campaign for Obama but it was mentioned several times through out the story. The book was told from several points of view. There were a lot of character mentioned which made me wonder why is this person being mentioned or what was their importance in the story.

I rated the book a three star because of what I stated above, however what I took from the story was that the family is resilient, that they stick together and are able to work out their disagreements and differences. I like the idea of the peach seed being passed down as a rite of passage as custom tradition. Also, there had to be someone of skill to continue and carry the knowledge of carving the peach seeds, but it seemed to stop with Fletcher. I don’t think Bo D was taught how to carve. I enjoyed reading about Fletcher and Altovise. Their past story and their love for each other was still there after so many years had passed. Their love would have been a story all to itself and the secret that Altovise brought with her gave the story some of the climax. The author included drug and alcohol addiction which was a way to show the family’s strength and endurance to overcome their obstacles and that they are able to seek help in order to stay strong.

Overall it was a good story idea, with some structure and a better outline this could have been a even better story. The idea of telling about the rite of passage, seeing the growth and maturity in the Duke family was inspiring, I will definitely give the author another try.

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The Peach Seed is a loving story of family, of life-defining choices, personal failure and redemption all tied together by little carved peach "seed" monkeys. It's kind of a a coming of age in old age story. It is around 2015. Fletcher Dukes, widowed father of three adult daughters, grew up in Albany, Georgia. In his youth, the town drew the attention of Martin Luther King, Jr. when the local police chief unlawfully arrested protesters and squirreled them away in secret jails outside of town so his jail was always empty. Fletcher, his sister Olga and his long gone high school sweetheart Altovise Benson were active in the civil rights movement of the early sixties. He envisioned a life with Altovise, but she was committed to leaving Albany for college and what turned out to be a successful career as a singer. And now, fifty years later-- she's back.

At the same time, somewhere in Michigan, Siman, a middle-aged man adopted at birth, is slowly researching the origin of his little monkey carved from a peach pit (the peach seed). It has diamond eyes. It was a gift from his birth mother, that came with instructions to follow a tradition to give it to him on his 13th birthday. His parents have died. His sister urges him to find his birth mother, the thoughtful woman who left open this door to his past.

Somewhere in the early 1800s, Malik, a teenaged pirogue maker from Senegal is kidnapped when he goes to the city to sell one of his boats. He is a gifted carver and he carries this gift to his place of enslavement in the United States, His story is of loss and of making a future. It is one of coming of age more than once. Partly it is about a small carved peach seed monkey and its impact on generations to come.

And back to present day we find messiness. Bo-D, Fletcher's nephew in need of a father figure is never called "son" by Fletcher, who is a kind but also kind of rigid guy. He always wanted a son and he mentored Bo-D but found it frustrating as Fletcher, a recovering alcoholic, cannot deal with Bo-D's addiction to pills. Bo-D has a three year old daughter he tries to parent with her mother Indicca, but his addiction and accompanying behaviors get in the way. His mother, Florida, looks after her dad, drinks heavily, and works. And they all make mistakes that hurt one another while clearly loving each other dearly.

Jones is a gifted writer and this is a highly engaging story, well crafted with characters I connected to. For me, it was a couldn't put it down book. The first in a while. Highly recommend.

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The Peach Seed is a novel steeped in history that emphasizes the importance of tradition and the power of heirlooms. It follows a Southern family whose members face a myriad of trials, tribulations, and interpersonal battles. It contains overarching familial themes leaning heavily on complicated father-son dynamics that are explored from various angles.

Overall, I think this was an admirable attempt to blend history and family drama as the author dabbled with complicated family dynamics that strain and test the family’s bonds. Other character’s challenges are a bit more dramatic – there’s a decades-long lost and found love thread, challenges with alcohol and drug addiction, and the ancestor’s capture and survival story that may resonate with some. It’s almost as if the novel is doing too much because there are repetitive passages and a lot of exposition via numerous characters who frequently spew historical facts via lengthy dialogue. It has all the elements any modern reader would/could/should love and appreciate – it’s a love story, a study of (dysfunctional) family dynamics, a history lesson on multiple levels (the African Diaspora, the Civil Rights Movement, and the local/regional history surrounding Southwestern (Albany) Georgia- however, I didn’t love it like I feel like I should/could have. I found the characters a bit dull and one-dimensional, much of the plot threads were predictable and formulaic, some passages were overwritten and repetitive, and the writing was a bit dry. While I appreciated the historical facts, I felt they were ill-placed or spewed out in wordy dialogue from random characters. I realize I’m in the minority with this assessment.

I would recommend it for anyone interested in the genre, family drama in Southern settings, and specifically Civil Rights history in SW Georgia.

Thanks to Henry Holt and Company, NetGalley for the opportunity to review.

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THE PEACH SEED is a thoroughly immersive and enjoyable reading experience. Perfect for fans of literary fiction, the novel is an in-depth examination of a family's history, including their traditions and secrets. I especially enjoyed how the author built the multi-layered characters, none of whom are perfect. I absolutely adored Fletcher Dukes and I was shocked at how much his grandson, Bo-D, grew on me. Altovise, Siman, Olga, and Florida are also wonderful characters who likewise seem like real people. The historical chapters delving into 1800s Senegal add a layer of complexity to the narrative.

At times the pace drags and I felt impatient with how the author paused the action to explain something. I'm wondering if the book needed to be this long or if perhaps it could have been tightened to keep things moving.

Ultimately, this is an extremely well-written book with some of the most realistic dialogue I've read this entire year. I very much look forward to more from Anita Gail Jones.

I was provided with an e-galley of the book by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review, and these opinions are my own.

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Former lovers, Fletcher and Altovise, reunite after half a century and confront the secrets they kept from each other while their families confront the blessings and burdens of a long standing peach seed carving tradition.

Set to a backdrop of the civil rights movement, exploring the evils of the institution of slavery, and told from multiple POV in different eras, this work started strong as a powerful novel about overcoming oppression, activism, defying odds, and finding lost family. The first half of the book introduced several intriguing plot lines, provided interesting background information, and included solid character development. Themes of faith and hope in troubled times, and the strength of family ties resonated through the pages. However, by the second half of the work, the principle themes became clouded by the extreme detail of Bo D’s addiction plot line and Malik’s enslavement plot line and their overall contribution to the work was diminished.

I did enjoy the beautiful writing, the overall story of the peach seed carvings, and Fletcher and Altovise’s past and reconnection after having lived full and separate lives. I also appreciate that this work brings to light the common injustices, past and present, faced by African Americans and the importance of family, community, and activism in challenging oppression. However, this work fell slightly flat for me with the extensive side stories that felt disconnected from the core plot and themes.

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What an interesting story!

There is actually two story lines - a current day story including the Dukes family of Albany, Georiga and the historical story line which is the story of the enslaved Dukes ancestors and the story of the carved peach seeds. I enjoyed the modern storyline - it has a lot included, drug/alcohol rehabs, adoption and finding the birth mother, civil rights protests and a lot of history. The historical storyline really felt unfinished to me - it just ended and didn't really tie up to the modern story. The history and the peach seed carving was very interesting to learn about. Despite a lot going on, the story was fast paced enough to stay interesting the entire book.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a temporary, digital ARC in return for my review.

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I wanted to love this book, based on the synopsis but it fell short in every way possible. Thin plot, non- developed characters and a less than satisfying ending - in short a huge disappointment

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I love a good multi-generational family story, and Jones delivers. Told through multiple generations using carved peach pits (seeds) as the link, Jones delves into a slow burn of masculinity and family in a legacy of slavery and generational trauma and substance abuse. One of the true strengths of Peach Seed is that even when tackling very heavy content, the writing feels appropriately reverent without wavering into realms of trauma porn or excuses. Instead each character feels fully formed and complex. The pain and the joys are real. The struggles and the happy endings are unrushed and possible. The growth of each character, is anchored in their decisions to become a better person, and are achieved through the support of those they love.

This is a family I would be happy to call my own, even with the drama and trauma that has surrounded them. Feel the love.

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The Peach Seed is a strong debut from Anita Gail Jones. It tells a multi-generational story of the family of Fletcher Dukes. There is hardship and laughter and grief and forgiveness. While some of the dialogue feels forced at times, the situations characters find themselves in, the emotions they experience, and the family dynamics feel so genuine that I felt at times that I was spying on a family that I shouldn't have. Bo D's story is especially moving, as I witnessed a young man's family give him the tough love, motivation, hope, and help he needed to find his way out from the bottom of despair and hopelessness. Part of me wishes Malik's story had been better integrated, as it felt merely dropped in at times, but the origins of this family's peach seed talisman drives home the point of the struggle and hope of the Black people in America, from the very moment slaves were dragged from their homelands. The Peach Seed is a well-written, engaging, beautiful story, and I look forward to reading more from Anita Gail Jones.

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I felt so many things reading this book. It was as though people I knew were the inspiration for the characters. Then I realized that most families want the same things for their offspring. They want their kids to do well. Most want their kids to respect what was built up and left for them. We have secrets, either known or unknown. Kids want more than their parents had, or what they perceive as more. I thought the book moved slowly, but I was still touched by all the social and familial tropes this author used. As a Georgia native, I felt like I was back home and these people were actually people I knew. Great job showing the dynamic of life from different viewpoints. We don't always understand why things are the way they are, but we can sometimes see that we don't know the ins and outs of a person's life. Yes, this is a book, but this was a bit too real. Great job by this author of fleshing these people and their lives out in a very solid manner.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an unbiased review.

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The Peach Seed is a multi-generational story of the Dukes family of Southwest Georgia and their longstanding tradition of presenting a monkey, carved from a peach seed, on every sons thirteenth birthday. This is an expansive story that undulates through time; each chapter told from a different character perspective, from 1800s Senegal to the civil rights movement of the 60s to present day Georgia and Michigan. There are many threads of this story that weave itself together over the 450 pages of text. Present day Fletcher Duke, is reconciling with his past when his first-love, Altoviese returns to Georgia after decades away. Their story takes us to the riots of the civil rights movement and the repercussions of peaceful protests turned violent. Fletcher’s sister, Olga, a retired professor and researcher receives an email from an adopted man in Michigan, claiming to have a peach seed monkey from his birth mother. Then you have Bo D, Fletcher’s grandson, who’s heavy substance abuse prevents him from being the man he wishes he could be. Lastly, you have Malik in Senegal. The chief’s son and expert wood carver who was captured on the shores of Senegal, thrust into the caverns of a wooden ship, and enslaved in South Carolina. Through these many stories, an enduring family legacy of both despair and strength become evident and as their choices ripple across generations. The Peach Seed is a deeply character driven novel, with numerous story lines that occasionally feel discordant, but ultimately I was invested in the saga. Recommended for those that love dialogue driven, multi-generational stories and interested in learning more about the peach seed monkey talisman.

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This multi-generational novel, which explores the long-lasting effects of the transatlantic slave trade, is inspired by the author’s personal family lore surrounding miniature monkeys carved from peach pits. The characters that Jones has created are vibrant and the plot reveals the strength and power of family. At times the dialog feels forced and the flashbacks that depict scenes of the 1800s slave trade seem almost an afterthought. However, despite these stylistic inefficiencies, The Peach Seed is doing important work. Jones brings the South alive and gives voice to stories that have previously been silenced.

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3.5 stars rounded up. The writing is beautiful as is the story, which jumps POV from different time periods. There were some characters I found myself more drawn to, like Fletcher and Altovise, and Siman, than others. I did enjoy the descriptions of life in 1800s Senegal. The concept of the peach seed monkey was new to me and I spent some time looking it up on Google because I wanted to get a better idea of what this talisman was to the characters in this novel. I really enjoyed learning about that.

This is a very character driven novel which I enjoy, but I felt bombarded with characters throughout this novel and, at times, I found myself confused as to who was who and why they were important. Perhaps there were too many POVs? I felt muddled going through some parts of this novel but overall did enjoy the story.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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I really enjoyed this grappling drama of a family across generations. The story is anchored with the Albany Movement which creates a great centering for thinking about activitism, its implications, and its personal costs. This book is a page turner, and the writing helps to build connections with the characters. I found myself cheering for them and their success. This is a beautifully written, layered book that readers should take their time in reading and enjoying.

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This book was ok, Fletcher is a man who has lived a pretty good live, all through his family history the father has carved a monkey out of a peach seed, they are only to be given to the males, he has only had girls, he makes one for his unruly Grandson, but no son. In his later life his old flame comes back to town, she is the only thing he has thoughts for. The life of Fletcher is mediocre to me, I would have like to has a little more drama in the story, but all in all a good story. I received this book from NetGalley, in return I'm giving my honest opinion
Anita Gail Jones, she has the same name as my sister who I miss dearly, Anita Gail, so I have to give this Author a big thumbs up

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