a compelling and lyrical new novel about a young black woman in the Civil War era who finds haven in a racially tolerant community.
Clara Bynum drowns in the Potomac River in the shadow of the Three Sisters. River, Cross My Heart, an accomplished debut novel, illuminates the African American experience in the 20th century and weighs the effect of Clara's death on her twelve-year-old sister, Johnnie Mae, who comes to terms with her part in her sister's death; Alice and Willie Bynum, her grieving, striving parents and the friends and relatives of the Bynum family.
Though Sewing Annie Coats and her son, Gabriel, have managed to buy their freedom, their lives are still marked by constant struggle and sacrifice. At mid-nineteenth century, Washington's Georgetown neighborhood where the Coats operate a tailor's shop and laundry, is a gritty, dangerous town with no laws protecting black people. The novel portrays the Coats’ world as they wage daily battles for dignity; as they negotiate with their former owner; as they assist escaping slaves and as they prepare for the encroaching Civil War.