A grainy dawn misted up from the bottom of the sky. Hattie closed her eyes and remembered the sunrises of her childhood–these visions were forever tugging at her; her memories of Georgia grew more urgent and pressing with each day she lived in Philadelphia. Every morning of her girlhood the work horn would sound in he bluing dawn, over the fields and the houses and the black gum trees. From her bed Hattie watched the field hands dragging down the road in front of her house. Always the laggards passed after the first horn: pregnant women, the sick and lame, those too old for picking, those with babies strapped to their backs. The horn urged them forward like a lash. Solemn the road and solemn their faces; the breaking white fields waiting, the pickers spilling across those fields like locusts.
From the book jacket (by Donna Seaman): “Writing with stunning authority, clarity, and courage, debut novelist Mathis pivots forward in time, spotlighting intensely dramatic episodes in the lives of Hattie’s nine subsequent children (and one grandchild to make the ‘twelve tribes’), galvanizing crises that expose the crushed dreams and anguished legacy of the Great Migration . . .”