That Pinson Girl
by Gerry Wilson
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Pub Date 06 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 12 Jan 2024
Praise for That Pinson Girl
“That Pinson Girl is a beautiful novel about the destructive power of dark secrets. Gerry Wilson’s prose shines as she breathes life into her characters and into the north Mississippi landscape. Leona Pinson, the young woman at the heart of this tale, is exactly the sort of heroine I long for in great fiction. I will not soon forget her. This book is a gift.”
— Tiffany Quay Tyson, award-winning author of The Past is Never and Three Rivers
“I did not know Gerry Wilson’s work before, but I loved That Pinson Girl. The book is both gripping and beautifully written, and the characters and setting quickly sprang to life. Though Wilson has her own voice, the novel calls to mind the work of one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Spencer.”
— Steve Yarbrough, author of Stay Gone Days, The Unmade World
“In Gerry Wilson’s gripping debut novel, 1918 in North Mississippi becomes tangible again; here are the red hills, the suck of winter mud, the scrabble of subsistence living, and the intricately crossed lines of race and kin. Wilson’s suspenseful threading of tales has lasting historical resonance. In confronting the tragedy of a broken family, she explores the weight of motherhood, the rich and betraying Southern landscape, and the body’s intimate vulnerabilities. This story took me by the collar and shook me.”
—Katy Simpson Smith, author of The Everlasting, Free Men, The Story of Land and Sea, and We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South. 1750-1835
“Devastating and beautifully written, Gerry Wilson’s That Pinson Girl is at once a heart-rending tragedy and a testament to the indomitable human spirit. In her heroine, Leona, Wilson has drawn an unforgettable character buoyed by her determination to survive and to care for her child, even when confronted with violence, racial tensions, the horrors of a distant war, mounting losses from the influenza epidemic, and the lingering repercussions of murder. This historical tale about a hard-scrabble Southern farming family grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go.”
— Clifford Garstang, author of Oliver’s Travels and The Shaman of Turtle Valley
“The past of Gerry Wilson’s riveting That Pinson Girl is far from dead as two families—one Black, one white—struggle to wrest a future from the unforgiving Mississippi hill country of the early twentieth century. A spellbinding story of murder, grief, and guilt with deeply sympathetic characters and a plot that takes you by the collar and won’t let go. This is red-clay Faulkner country: the Klan rides, rivers overflow, crops fail—and yet its traumatized women and Black inhabitants find ways to salvage what’s been lost and build new lives out of the rubble. Leona Pinson and Luther Biggs are two of the most memorable characters I’ve met in a long time. I want a sequel!”
— Minrose Gwin, author of The Accidentals, Promise, and The Queen of Palmyra
“In a richly textured and fearless first novel, Gerry Wilson creates a world that is lyrical at times and always unflinching. That Pinson Girl portrays the tension of biracial friendships and loyalties in the rural South, a reality that has rarely been depicted with such precision. A remarkable debut.”
— Gale Massey, author of The Girl from Blind River
“Sixteen-year-old Leona Pinson grows up fast in this powerfully evocative story of resilience, triumph, and renewal. It’s 1918. Every day, there’s some scrap of news about the war in Europe, but where is Isaiah’s father? And who murdered Leona’s father out there in the woods? Transporting us to a rural American South not long past, Gerry Wilson delivers a timely debut novel, proving the importance of guiding principles, internal morals, and maintaining your own spirit light.”
— Margaret McMullan, author of Where the Angels Lived
“There are scintillating glints that sparkle on every page of this novel. They are bright insights into the human condition which are expressed in the clear, uncluttered prose of Gerry Wilson’s intrinsic art and craft of storytelling. Reading the conclusion of That Pinson Girl makes one want to begin again to delve even more profoundly into what informs and motivates the spirits of the characters who inhabit these pages.”
— Nina Romano, author of The Secret Language of Women and The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley