Winner of the 2020 Guernica Prize for Literary Fiction
The Shade Tree is a searing exploration of racial injustice set against the backdrop of some of America's most turbulent historical events. The lives of two white sisters and a black midwife are inextricably linked through a series of haunting tragedies, and the characters must make life-changing decisions about where their loyalties lie: with their biological families or with a greater moral cause. From a Florida orange grove to the seat of power in Washington, DC during the height of the civil rights movement, The Shade Tree tells a sweeping yet intimate story of racial discrimination and the human hunger for justice.
"In its account of almost half a century in the lives of two white Southern sisters and of the African Americans whose experiences are inextricable from their, The Shade Tree is brutally personal, heartbreakingly political – and remarkably written. Theresa Shea has combined boldness and subtlety with swaths of compassion to come up with a novel that's both complicated and ferociously clear."
Joan Barfoot, Booker and Scotiabank Giller prizes nominee, and author of Abra, Luck, and Critical Injuries
"In her nuanced portrait of families riven by race and sex, Theresa Shea offers a searing indictment of Jim Crow’s corrosive influence that, if unleashed and unquestioned, can make monsters of us all. Beautifully and unflinchingly written, this is a novel for our times."
Terry Gamble, Author of The Water Dancers, Good Family, and The Eulogist