book cover of The Hundredth Turtle

The Hundredth Turtle

(The second book in the Fifth Born series)
A novel by

Fifth Born II: The Hundredth Turtle is sequel to the novel Fifth Born. Set in New York s Harlem and in rural Mississippi during the late 1970 s and 80 s, the novel is reminiscent in tone to Alice Walker s The Color Purple. The story is rich in its portrayal of both the urban and rural spirit, and prolific in its human teachings that demonstrate the love necessary for reconnecting with family members estranged by family violence. When Odessa Blackburn is first left in Mississippi to negotiate a new life with her ostracized mother Ella Mae, the strains of family propaganda, puberty, and life away from her siblings make for compounded heartache. Odessa and Ella Mae must negotiate toward patience and a new way of loving without violence. Soon mother and daughter build a bridge out of their broken lives over which Odessa s oldest brother Lamont crosses. The novel blossoms into the story of these young adult siblings. Though the two are estranged early in childhood by the lies and myths born of family pain, they become emotionally reliant on each other for a sense of family. Following Lamont s death from AIDS, Odessa is faced with her own grieving, and with fulfilling Lamont s request for connection with their estranged siblings. The novel s arc takes the reader over the complicated waters of family division due to incest and homophobia. Against a contrasted backdrop of pastoral bluesy tones of Mississippi and jazzy asphalt and graffiti rifts of Harlem, these difficult subjects are traversed melodically and lyrically. The reader is offered the triumphant depiction of an adult survivor who overcomes obstacles set against her at birth and safely returns home.

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