Published: May 2020 by Firefly Southern Fiction
Category: Southern Fiction, Family Saga, Book Review
Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy
One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.
For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed.
Three childhood friends, Ava, Renny and Celia, grew up together and are now scattered around the country. Even though their lives have taken different directions, the ties of a deep friendship remain. When Ava is having serious doubts about her marriage and needs support, the three women get together for a few days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas. Ava has arranged to see her ex boyfriend, Mark while she’s at the cabin, unbeknownst to Celia and Renny, and he brings Celia’s ex fiancé over, which stirs up memories and emotions Celia had long since hoped would stay buried.
Little Tea alternates between the present and 1980’s Memphis, witnessing events unfolding through Celia’s eyes. Her family own a cotton farm in Como, Mississippi but spend a lot of time at their house in Memphis. Celia looks forward to being at the farm and spending time with her best friend, Little Tea Winfrey. Little Tea is African American, the daughter of employees of the Wakefields, and a budding athlete. Not everyone is open minded enough to accept their friendship. The younger generations are mostly more inclined to accept the cultual changes but even in the 1980s there are social and deeply entrenched racial divides in the South which allow a glimpse past the cultured veneer of society. Celia, her brother Hayward and their parents get along famously with the Winfreys, whereas the eldest sibling, John embraces the outdated ways of his grandparents.
But there was something contradictory to my grandmother’s benevolent sentiments towards all things great and small, and it was her staunch standpoint against those she called ‘coloreds.’ When in their presence, she assumed a mountaineer’s air, a prideful reserve cold as an artic blast, and there wasn’t a black person who ever came into her sphere who couldn’t feel it. It was disorientating for me to feel the barometric pressure rise when Thelonious, Elvita and Little Tea were around her. They’d each don a game-face bland as a lizard, and their demeanor changed to something sinuate and stoic. My brother John subscribed to our grandmother’s cultural divide completely, but Hayward and I never had cause to confront it until the night of Little Tea’s prom.