10 Books Published by Counterpoint on AALBC — Book Cover Collage

Click for more detail about The Other Mother by Rachel M. Harper The Other Mother

by Rachel M. Harper
Counterpoint (May 03, 2022)
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A page-turning generational saga about a young man’s search for a parent he never knew, and a moving portrait of motherhood, race, and the truths we hide in the name of familyJenry Castillo is a musical prodigy, raised by a single mother in Miami. He arrives at Brown University on a scholarship—but also to learn more about his late father, Jasper Patterson, a famous ballet dancer who died tragically when Jenry was two. On his search, he meets his estranged grandfather, Winston Patterson, a legendary professor of African American history and a fixture at the Ivy League school, who explodes his world with one question: Why is Jenry so focused on Jasper, when it was Winston’s daughter, Juliet, who was romantically involved with Jenry’s mother? Juliet is the parent he should be looking for—his other mother.†Revelation follows revelation as each member of Jenry’s family steps forward to tell the story of his origin, uncovering a web of secrecy that binds this family together even as it keeps them apart. Moving seamlessly between the past and the present, The Other Mother is a daring, ambitious novel that celebrates the complexities of love and resilience—masterfully exploring the intersections of race, class, and sexuality; the role of biology in defining who belongs to whom; and the complicated truth of what it means to be a family.†


Click for more detail about The Perishing by Natashia Deón The Perishing

by Natashia Deón
Counterpoint (Nov 09, 2021)
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A Black immortal in 1930’s Los Angeles must recover the memory of her past in order to discover who she truly is in this extraordinarily affecting novel for readers of N. K. Jemisin and Octavia E. Butler.

Lou, a young Black woman, wakes up in an alley in 1930s Los Angeles with no memory of how she got there or where she’s from. Taken in by a caring foster family, Lou dedicates herself to her education while trying to put her mysterious origins behind her. She’ll go on to become the first Black female journalist at the Los Angeles Times, but Lou’s extraordinary life is about to take an even more remarkable turn. When she befriends a firefighter at a downtown boxing gym, Lou is shocked to realize that though she has no memory of meeting him, she’s been drawing his face for years.

Increasingly certain that their paths previously crossed—and beset by unexplainable flashes from different eras haunting her dreams—Lou begins to believe she may be an immortal sent here for a very important reason, one that only others like her can explain. Setting out to investigate the mystery of her existence, Lou must make sense of the jumble of lifetimes calling to her, just as new forces threaten the existence of those around her.

Immersed in the rich historical tapestry of Los Angeles—Prohibition, the creation of Route 66, and the collapse of the St. Francis Dam—The Perishing is a stunning examination of love and justice through the eyes of one miraculous woman whose fate seems linked to the city she comes to call home.


Click for more detail about The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton The Revisioners

by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
Counterpoint (Nov 05, 2019)
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"Few capture the literary world’s attention with their debut like [Sexton] did; her first novel, A Kind of Freedom, was nominated for the National Book Award… Her anticipated follow-up offers a bracing window into Southern life and tensions, alternating between two women’s stories―set nearly 100 years apart." ―Entertainment Weekly

"Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s writing is graceful and stylish, her truths relevant and necessary―it’s just so exhilarating to read her. I was mesmerized by The Revisioners, an impeccable novel of magic, loss, and family, all anchored by generations of powerful women." ―Jami Attenberg, author of All Grown Up

In 1924, Josephine is the proud owner of a thriving farm. As a child, she channeled otherworldly power to free herself from slavery. Now her new neighbor, a white woman named Charlotte, seeks her company, and an uneasy friendship grows between them. But Charlotte has also sought solace in the Ku Klux Klan, a relationship that jeopardizes Josephine’s family.

Nearly one hundred years later, Josephine’s descendant, Ava, is a single mother who has just lost her job. She moves in with her white grandmother, Martha, a wealthy but lonely woman who pays Ava to be her companion. But Martha’s behavior soon becomes erratic, then threatening, and Ava must escape before her story and Josephine’s converge.

The Revisioners explores the depths of women’s relationships—powerful women and marginalized women, healers and survivors. It is a novel about the bonds between mothers and their children, the dangers that upend those bonds. At its core, The Revisioners ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope, and the undying promise of freedom.


Click for more detail about Speaking of Summer: A Novel by Kalisha Buckhanon Speaking of Summer: A Novel

by Kalisha Buckhanon
Counterpoint (Jul 30, 2019)
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The new novel from the author of Upstate, one of five books selected by the National Book Foundation for the inaugural Literature for Justice Program: a literary thriller about one woman’s desperate search for her missing twin sister, a multi-layered mystery set against the neighborhoods of Harlem.

On a cold December evening, Autumn Spencer’s twin sister Summer walks to the roof of their shared Harlem brownstone and is never seen again?the door to the roof is locked, and no footsteps are found. Faced with authorities indifferent to another missing woman, Autumn must pursue answers on her own, all while grieving her mother’s recent death.

With her friends and neighbors, Autumn pretends to hold up through the crisis. She falls into an affair with Summer’s boyfriend to cope with the disappearance of a woman they both loved. But the loss becomes too great, the mystery too inexplicable, and Autumn starts to unravel, all the while becoming obsessed with murdered women and the men who kill them.

In Speaking of Summer, critically acclaimed author Kalisha Buckhanon has created a postmodern, fast-paced story of urban peril and victim invisibility, and the fight to discover truth at any cost.

Book Review

Click for more detail about Old In Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Irvin Painter Old In Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over

by Nell Irvin Painter
Counterpoint (Jun 19, 2018)
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A Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick: 1 of 34 Titles to Wave a Flag About

"Old in Art School is a glorious achievement?bighearted and critical, insightful and entertaining. This book is a cup of courage for everyone who wants to change their lives." ?Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage and Silver Sparrow

Following her retirement from Princeton University, celebrated historian Dr. Nell Irvin Painter surprised everyone in her life by returning to school?in her sixties?to earn a BFA and MFA in painting. In Old in Art School, she travels from her beloved Newark to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design; finds meaning in the artists she loves, even as she comes to understand how they may be undervalued; and struggles with the unstable balance between the pursuit of art and the inevitable, sometimes painful demands of a life fully lived.

How are women and artists seen and judged by their age, looks, and race? What does it mean when someone says, “You will never be an artist”? Who defines what “An Artist” is and all that goes with such an identity, and how are these ideas tied to our shared conceptions of beauty, value, and difference?

Old in Art School is Nell Painter’s ongoing exploration of those crucial questions. Bringing to bear incisive insights from two careers, Painter weaves a frank, funny, and often surprising tale of her move from academia to art.


Click for more detail about A Kind of Freedom: A Novel by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton A Kind of Freedom: A Novel

by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
Counterpoint (Aug 15, 2017)
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A 2017 National Book Award Nominee
A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
Chosen as 1 of 12 books to read this August by the Chicago Review of Books
Chosen as 1 of 24 Incredible Books to Add to Your Shelf This Summer by the Huffington Post
Chosen as 1 of 10 Books to Read in August by BBC Culture

"This luminous and assured first novel shines an unflinching, compassionate light on three generations of a black family in New Orleans, emphasizing endurance more than damage." ?The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice

Evelyn is a Creole woman who comes of age in New Orleans at the height of World War II. Her family inhabits the upper echelon of Black society, and when she falls for no-account Renard, she is forced to choose between her life of privilege and the man she loves.

In 1982, Evelyn’s daughter, Jackie, is a frazzled single mother grappling with her absent husband’s drug addiction. Just as she comes to terms with his abandoning the family, he returns, ready to resume their old life.

Jackie’s son, T.C., loves the creative process of growing marijuana more than the weed itself. He was a square before Hurricane Katrina, but the New Orleans he knew didn’t survive the storm. Fresh out of a four-month stint for drug charges, T.C. decides to start over?until an old friend convinces him to stake his new beginning on one last deal.

For Evelyn, Jim Crow is an ongoing reality, and in its wake new threats spring up to haunt her descendants. A Kind of Freedom is an urgent novel that explores the legacy of racial disparity in the South through a poignant and redemptive family history.


Click for more detail about Grace by Natashia Deón Grace

by Natashia Deón
Counterpoint (Apr 11, 2017)
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Named a New York Times 2016 Best Book of the Year by critic Jennifer Senior.

For a runaway slave in the 1840s south, life on the run can be just as dangerous as life under a sadistic Massa. That’s what fifteen-year-old Naomi learns after she escapes the brutal confines of life on an Alabama plantation and takes refuge in a Georgia brothel run by a gun-toting Jewish madam named Cynthia. Amidst a revolving door of gamblers and prostitutes, Naomi falls into a love affair with a smooth-talking white man named Jeremy.

The product of their union is Josey, whose white skin and blond hair mark her as different from the others on the plantation. Having been taken in as an infant by a free slave named Charles, Josey has never known her mother, who was murdered at her birth. Josey soon becomes caught in the tide of history when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reaches her and a day of supposed freedom turns into one of unfathomable violence that will define Josey?and her lost mother? for years to come.

Grace is a sweeping, intergenerational saga featuring a group of outcast women during one of the most compelling eras in American history. It is a universal story of freedom, love, and motherhood, told in a dazzling and original voice set against a rich and transporting historical backdrop.


Click for more detail about In the Not Quite Dark: Stories by Dana Johnson In the Not Quite Dark: Stories

by Dana Johnson
Counterpoint (Aug 09, 2016)
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A collection of bold stories set in downtown Los Angeles that examine large issues like love, class, and race, and how they influence and define our most intimate moments.

With deep insight into character, intimate relationships, and the modern search for personal freedom, In the Not Quite Dark is powerful collection of stories that feels both urgent and timeless from Dana Johnson, the author of the prize-winning collection Break Any Woman Down.

In “The Liberace Museum,” a mixed–race couple leave the South toward the destination of Vegas, crossing miles of road and history to the promised land of consumption; in “Rogues,” a young man on break from college lands in his brother’s Inland Empire neighborhood during a rash of unexplained robberies; in “She Deserves Everything She Gets,” a woman listens to the strict advice given to her spoiled niece about going away to college, reflecting on her own experience and the night she lost her best friend; and in the collection’s title story, a man setting down roots in downtown L.A. is haunted by the specter of both gentrification and a young female tourist, whose body was found in the water tower of a neighboring building.


Click for more detail about Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape by Lauret Savoy Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape

by Lauret Savoy
Counterpoint (Nov 10, 2015)
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Sand and stone are Earth’s fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent’s past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her —paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples indigenous to this land —lie largely eroded and lost.

In this provocative and powerful mosaic of personal journeys and historical inquiry across a continent and time, Savoy explores how the country’s still unfolding history, and ideas of“race, have marked her and the land. From twisted terrain within the San Andreas Fault zone to a South Carolina plantation, from national parks to burial grounds, from“Indian Territory and the U.S.-Mexico Border to the U.S. capital, Trace grapples with a searing national history to reveal the often unvoiced presence of the past.

In distinctive and illuminating prose that is attentive to the rhythms of language and landscapes, she weaves together human stories of migration, silence, and displacement, as epic as the continent they survey, with uplifted mountains, braided streams, and eroded canyons.


Click for more detail about Elsewhere, California: A Novel (NONE) by Dana Johnson Elsewhere, California: A Novel (NONE)

by Dana Johnson
Counterpoint (Jun 12, 2012)
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We first met Avery in two of the stories featured in Dana Johnson’s award?winning collection Break Any Woman Down. As a young girl, she and her family escape the violent streets of Los Angeles to a more gentrified existence in suburban West Covina. This average life, filled with school, trips to 7?Eleven to gawk at Tiger Beat magazine, and family outings to Dodger Stadium, is soon interrupted by a past she cannot escape, personified in the guise of her violent cousin Keith.

When Keith moves in with her family, he triggers a series of events that will follow Avery throughout her life: to her studies at USC, to her burgeoning career as a painter and artist, and into her relationship with a wealthy Italian who sequesters her in his glass?walled house in the Hollywood Hills. The past will intrude upon Avery’s first gallery show, proving her mother’s adage: Every goodbye aint gone. The dual?narrative of Elsewhere, California illustrates the complicated history of African Americans across the rolling basin of Los Angeles.