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The Accidentals

The Accidentals, August 2019
by Minrose Gwin

William Morrow Paperbacks
416 pages
ISBN: 0062471759
EAN: 9780062471758
Kindle: B079DQMZDW
Paperback / e-Book
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"An engrossing story about two sisters and their ordeals."

Fresh Fiction Review

The Accidentals
Minrose Gwin

Reviewed by Magdalena Johansson
Posted July 5, 2019

Historical

1957, Opelika, Mississippi. June and Grace's mother Olivia McAlister makes the bad decision to have a backwoods abortion. This decision leads to her death and June and Grace's lives forever changed. Their father Holly can't really deal with the loss, and Olivia's unmarried sister tries to help them out. Then, tragedy strikes again when Grace becomes pregnant and has to go away to give birth in secret so nobody would know. Back home June is waiting. She's the one that told their father about the pregnancy and she feels that it is all her fault. Now she waits for her sister to come home again. However, Grace will never really recover from the ordeal of giving up her baby and the sister's life will never be as it was before.

THE ACCIDENTALS started off slow for me and it took quite a while for me to get into the book. However, I suddenly realized, somewhere along the way, that I was totally engrossed in the story and I couldn't stop reading. I think it was somewhere around the part when Grace has to give up the baby and everything that happens after that. The story just becomes so fascinating to read - the impact of this baby on so many lives, and everything that happens after as we follow Grace and June as they grew up and grew old. And, that ending - loved it! It's a book that took me by surprise and one that I can't recommend enough to read.

Learn more about The Accidentals

SUMMARY

Following the death of their mother from a botched backwoods abortion, the McAlister daughters have to cope with the ripple effect of this tragedy as they come of age in 1950s Mississippi and then grow up to face their own impossible choices —an unforgettable, beautiful novel that is threaded throughout with the stories of mothers and daughters in pre-Roe versus Wade America.

“Life heads down back alleys, takes sharp left turns. Then, one fine day it jumps the track and crashes.”

In the fall of 1957, Olivia McAlister is living in Opelika, Mississippi, caring for her two girls, June and Grace, and her husband, Holly. She dreams of living a much larger life--seeing the world and returning to her wartime job at a landing boat factory in New Orleans. As she watches over the birds in her yard, Olivia feels like an “accidental”—a migratory bird blown off course.

When Olivia becomes pregnant again, she makes a fateful decision, compelling Grace, June, and Holly to cope in different ways. While their father digs up the backyard to build a bomb shelter, desperate to protect his family, Olivia’s spinster sister tries to take them all under her wing. But the impact of Olivia’s decision reverberates throughout Grace’s and June’s lives. Grace, caught up in an unconventional love affair, becomes one of the “girls who went away” to have a baby in secret. June, guilt-ridden for her part in exposing Grace’s pregnancy, eventually makes an unhappy marriage. Meanwhile Ed Mae Johnson, an African-American care worker in a New Orleans orphanage, is drastically impacted by Grace’s choices.

As the years go by, their lives intersect in ways that reflect the unpredictable nature of bird flight that lands in accidental locations—and the consolations of imperfect return.

Filled with tragedy, humor, joy, and the indomitable strength of women facing the constricted spaces of the 1950s and 60s, The Accidentals is a poignant, timely novel that reminds us of the hope and consolation that can be found in unexpected landings.


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