Vidalia Kandal lives in rural Georgia in 1955 and becomes pregnant at seventeen. She drops out of high school at the end of her senior year and marries Jamerson “JB” Jackson. Vidalia was attracted to JB’s charm and attentiveness, but after living with him she sees his darker side. JB was always a controlling person and Vidalia finds he also uses physical abuse to dominate her.
Their relations morphs into a loveless marriage. During a bad episode that caused a miscarriage, Vidalia meets the “spirit” of her unborn child. Dubbed Cieli Mae, the spirit become the narrator of Vidalia’s life story.
Vidalia has no emotional support having been cut off from her parents since her wedding day. As time passes, Vidalia’s family grows and she is supporting two sets of twin boys. Through the years she copes with poverty, numerous miscarriages and unrelenting abuse. Vidalia eventually finds herself with a small community of friends that support her and provide her with the courage to survive.
This Southern fiction novel gives a glimpse of living during an era that included racial tensions and stereotypes. It is about resilience, charity and perseverance. I am looking forward to Deborah Mantella’s next novel.