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Deb Spera Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Call Your Daughter Home (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Deb Spera is an American author of historical fiction and suspense novels best known for her 2018 debut novel, Call Your Daughter Home. Besides writing, Deb is a TV producer and owns a television company. She started her TV career at Eden Roc Films, and worked on two films: From Dusk to Dawn and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. She also worked at Showtime and oversaw movies such as 12 Angry Men, The Baby Dance, On the Beach, Inherit the World, etc. In 2017, Deborah Spera sold her first novel, Alligator. The book is set in 1924 and focuses on the lives of three women struggling to make ends meet in an economically ravaged South Carolina.

Call Your Daughter Home may not be the most acclaimed novel out there, but it certainly stands out as a notable work. Set in 1924, the story revolves around Gertrude Pardee and her life in dire conditions. She lives with her four young daughters in a decrepit shack in the swamp, where their living conditions are almost primitive.

The story takes a dramatic turn when Gertrude faces a looming storm, both literal and metaphorical. In a moment of intense bravery and desperation, she confronts the aftermath of killing her abusive husband, left dead in the swamp from a bullet she fired. As the storm approaches, Gertrude, determined and fearless, removes her only dress and ventures naked into the swamp to deal with his body. This powerful scene sets the tone for a story of resilience and survival against all odds. Call Your Daughter Home is a gripping tale that vividly portrays the struggles and strength of its main character, capturing the essence of a turbulent time and place.

We meet two other important characters: Retta and Annie. Retta is notable as the first free woman in her family and works for Annie. Retta’s care for Mary, Gertrude’s youngest daughter. Gertrude, severely injured and ill due to the last beating from her husband Alvin is unable to care for Mary.

Retta faces a moral dilemma when she brings Mary, a white child, into her community in Shake Rag. Her husband Odell and neighbors warn her of the potential troubles of getting involved with a white family. They caution her, saying, “Don’t get messed up with that white family. No good can come of it.” Retta knows the risks, especially if something happens to Mary under her care.

However, Gertrude’s plea, citing Christian duty, persuades Retta to help. The sight of the helpless five-year-old deeply moves her, and she decides to take care of her, reassuring her community that it’s only for three days. This decision reflects the time’s complex social dynamics and racial tensions, as well as Retta’s compassion and moral fortitude.

Miss Annie, a Caucasian woman, runs a small business and is married to a farmer. Despite her seemingly ordinary life, she is burdened with dark family secrets that she has long tried to ignore. As a storm approaches, these hidden truths surface, forcing Miss Annie to confront them. Her situation is one that few would envy. The story alternates between the first-person perspectives of each woman, offering a rich and varied view of their world. The way they perceive one another also adds depth to their individual stories. The setting is vividly portrayed, creating an atmosphere of tension and foreboding that perfectly complements the characters’ development.

Retta shares a touching belief about childbirth. She explains that one must call out to the child during birth so the right soul is drawn through. Retta had done this with her daughter, who is now gone. Tragically, each of the three women has experienced the loss of a daughter, forming the central theme of the story. This shared experience of loss connects their lives, weaving a tale of sorrow, resilience, and the complex nature of mother-daughter relationships.

Call Your Daughter Home is a novel that immerses you in a raw, dark reality of life in rural South Carolina in 1924. The story portrays the struggle of keeping up with changing times, where mere survival is a daily battle, often leaving little room for hope or light. This book is not an easy read. It delves into various forms of abuse, ranging from child abuse, spousal abuse, murder, sexual abuse, racism, suicide, pedophilia, teen pregnancy, alcoholism, marginalization, and mental illness. These elements serve as a stark reminder that such experiences were both real but also widespread and constant.

The setting of the novel in an era marked by poverty, racial segregation under Jim Crow laws, and the aftermath of the Civil War adds to its intensity. The story sheds light on the desperation and violence bred by poverty and the limited options available to girls at the time, often leading to early marriages.

The novel’s connection to real history makes it an important read. It gives voice to the shared experiences and sorrows that bind women across cultures and communities. These connections are portrayed through the characters’ shared experiences, common fears, and the unspoken sorrows that they bear. Retta embodies compassion and strength. She has faced personal loss and works tirelessly on a tobacco plantation, proving her resilience and dignity in a society quick to undermine her.

Deb Spera gradually uncovers a veil of secrets that shrouds the Cole family, especially hidden within the lives of Annie’s children. As the narrative unfolds, these long-held, deep secrets begin to surface.

The novel is a powerful depiction of resilience amidst challenging circumstances. The rawness of the situations and the authenticity of the language add a profound depth to the story. The ending brings a significant revelation, heavy with impact and meaning. Deb Spera’s debut novel is a powerful portrayal of survival in difficult circumstances. The raw situations and language used in the book add to its authenticity. The story’s conclusion is impactful, leaving a lasting impression on the reader. She explains her commitment to realism in her author’s notes, which adds to the novel’s impact. The characters’ journeys are so vividly depicted that they stay with the reader long after closing the book.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Deb Spera

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