Sunday, August 20, 2017

New Orleans author Sexton offers heart-breaking generational novel with 'A Kind of Freedom'

Three New Orleans generations make up Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s heart-wrenching novel, “A Kind of Freedom,” each suffering through desires, ambitions and brutal limitations.

Evelyn grows up in a middle-class Creole family during World War II, her father a doctor and a pillar among the African American community. She falls for Renard, a man of lesser upbringing but one who also desires to become a doctor. Evelyn must choose between her privileged upbringing and the man she loves, a man struggling to achieve success among gross discrimination in both the military and the city of his youth.

Evelyn and Renard give birth to two daughters, one who becomes a successful lawyer and Jackie, who marries a man destined to fall victim to drugs. Jackie’s son, T.C., grows up lured with the easy money of providing drugs to the community, and he enjoys growing his own special blend of pot. When his girlfriend gives birth to a son, he feels the pull of being someone his son will admire, despite the hand being dealt him as a man of color.

Sexton, who grew up in New Orleans but now lives in the Bay Area of California, tears at your heart with this multi-generational tale in which readers hope for the best for this family but know society’s limitations and empty promises will drag them down.

And yet, hope remains. Or maybe the possibility of hope.

“Maybe Malik would know him to be a warrior, someone who turned the odds on their head,” T.C. imagines when he sees his newborn son. “Maybe he would see him as just a good man, and, yeah, he’d made some mistakes, but he loved his family, he was there for his son.”

Publisher’s Weekly gave “A Kind of Freedom” a starred review, writing, “In this fine debut, each generation comes with new possibilities and deferred dreams blossoming with the hope that this time, finally, those dreams may come to fruition.”

Sexton studied creative writing at Dartmouth and law at UC Berkeley. She is a recipient of the Lombard fellowship in which she spent a year working for civil rights in the Dominican Republic. She will sign copies of “A Kind of Freedom” at 6 p.m. Saturday at Octavia Books of New Orleans.

New releases
New York Times bestselling author Erica Spindler of New Orleans has published “The Other Girl,” a new thriller about a ritualist murder of a college professor that sends a small town cop back into the trauma she thought she’d put behind her. Publisher’s Weekly calls the Louisiana-based story, “Explosive.”

Jean Sorrell of Lafayette, a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a Ph.D. in English-creative writing, has published a new novel titled “Shadow of Death.” The thriller follows Catherine Lyle, who must journey to Louisiana to retrieve her sister’s body, found in a deserted mansion next to the leper colony on the Mississippi River. Lyle carries a suppressed secret but puts her fears aside for the journey. As she gets closer to discovering the murderer, however, she finds herself marked for death. Sorrell was editor of Classical Magazine, an instructor of humanities and life writing at ULL and author of screenplays, articles and the novel “The Returning.” For more information, visit http://jeansorrell.com/.

Available as new ebooks are Eden Butler’s “Fall” and Tina DeSalvo’s “Abby,” book three in the “Second Chance” series. Both authors live in South Louisiana.

Poet Laureate
Jack Bedell, professor of the Humanities at Southeastern Louisiana University, has been chosen to be the next Louisiana poet laureate. He is the author of seven books, including “Call and Response” (with Darrell Bourque, 2010), “Come Rain, Come Shine” (2006), “What Passes for Love” (2001) and “Bone-Hollow, True: New & Selected Poems” (2013).

Book events for Aug. 19-27
The Friends of the Terrebonne Parish Library will host its Inventory Reduction Book Sale from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Main Library in Houma. For more information, visit http://mytpl.org.

Geek’d Con, a comic con-style event that brings together stars of film, television, music, wrestling, video games, comics and more, concludes today at the Shreveport Convention Center. For event details, including a link to purchase tickets, visit www.GeekdCon.com.   
Marcus Descant, owner of The Urban Naturalist, will offer tips on fall gardening, at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the East Regional Library in Lafayette. Participants will bring home an herb or vegetable plant to get their garden started.

Liah Penn, author of two mystery/fantasies; Colleen Mooney, author of a series of cozy mysteries; and Nancy Bourgeois, author of “Murder Behind the Mask,” will discuss and sign copies of their books at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the East Bank Regional Library in Metairie. This event is free and open to the public. Penn is author of “Pure Death and Pure Justice,” Mooney author of “Rescued by a Kiss,” “Dead and Breakfast” and “Drive Thru Murder.”

Tony Goyette, a licensed hearing specialist, will discuss the importance of hearing health at 7 p.m. Thursday at the East Bank Regional Library in Metairie.


Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.