"With compelling characters and a heart-pounding plot, Jamila Minnicks pulled me into pages of history I’d never turned before."―Barbara Kingsolver, New York Times bestselling author of Demon Copperhead Winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, an enchanting and thought-provoking debut novel about a Black woman doing whatever it takes to protect all she loves on Alabama soil during the Civil Rights Movement.
It’s 1957, and after leaving the only home she has ever known, Alice Young steps off the bus into all-Black New Jessup, where residents have largely rejected integration as the means for Black social advancement. Instead, they seek to maintain, and fortify, the community they cherish on their “side of the woods.” In this place, Alice falls in love with Raymond Campbell, whose clandestine organizing activities challenge New Jessup’s longstanding status quo and could lead to the young couple’s expulsion—or worse—from the home they both hold dear. As they marry and raise children together, Alice must find a way to balance her undying support for his underground work with her desire to protect New Jessup from the rising pressure of upheaval from inside, and outside, their side of town. Based on the history of the many Black towns and settlements established across the country, Jamila Minnicks's heartfelt and riveting debut is both a celebration of Black joy and a timely examination of the opposing viewpoints that attended desegregation in America. Longlisted for The Center for Fiction 2023 First Novel Prize