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From the best-selling author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, a searing multi-generational novel—set in the 1980s in racially and politically turbulent Philadelphia and in the tiny town of Bonaparte, Alabama—about a mother fighting for her sanity and survival

From the moment Ava Carson and her eleven-year-old son, Toussaint, arrive at Philadelphia’s Glenn Avenue Family shelter in 1985, Ava is already plotting a way out. She detests their roach infested bedroom and the shifty night security guard who is on constant watch, and she is determined to give her son the safe, stable childhood that she never had. Estranged from her own mother, Dutchess, whose intractability and implacable depression brought Ava to the outer reaches of neglect and hunger, she resolves to make a better life for her son. But when Toussaint’s father reappears, Ava is swept off course by his charisma and by the intoxicating power of his vision for a radical new group devoted to redressing the imbalance of racial injustice.

Meanwhile, in Bonaparte, Dutchess struggles to keep the tiny Alabama town in the hands of its remaining black residents—families whose lives have been entangled and powerfully rooted in this untouched stretch of land for generations—and away from steadily encroaching white developers.

Sensing the danger simmering all around him—his well-intentioned but erratic mother; his intense but volatile father who has newly appeared in his life and is building a community that looks increasingly radicalized and violent—Toussaint begins to dream of his grandmother, Dutchess, and of home.

A brilliant, explosive, vitally important new work from one of our most fiercely talented storytellers.

The Unsettled

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