The critically acclaimed debut novel from pioneering actress and writer Denise Nicholas tells the story of one young woman’s coming of age via the political and social upheavals of the civil rights movement. Nineteen-year-old Celeste Tyree leaves Ann Arbor to go to Pineyville, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964 to help found a voter registration project as part of Freedom Summer. As the summer unfolds, she confronts not only the political realities of race and poverty in this tiny town, but also deep truths about her family and herself. Drawing on Nicholas’ own involvement in the movement, Freshwater Road was hailed by Newsday as �Perhaps the best work of fiction ever done about the civil rights movement.”
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In her rich, absorbing debut, actress Nicholas ( Room 222; In the Heat of the Night) follows a young woman South to “trench Mississippi, gutbucket Mississippi” during the summer of 1964. The daughter of a Detroit bar owner/numbers runner and his estranged, class-conscious ex-wife (whose light complexion enables her to pass as white), Celeste Tyree has enjoyed a comfortable, sheltered middle-class life for all of her nearly two decades. But when activists talking of nonviolent revolution visit her Ann Arbor college campus, she determines to go South to help register blacks to vote. It’s a decision she shares with her stern father, Shuck, in a “By the time you read this” letter, and Shuck’s self-identification as a race man wars with his concern for his daughter. Part of what drives wide-eyed Northerner Celeste is her sense that her life little matches common black experience; her work in Mississippi is an attempt to validate her identity as a black woman as much as it is a journey to help lift the veil of oppression. Nicholas tests her protagonist’s mettle in multiple ways, and Celeste finds previously untapped reserves of strength, learning lessons about activism and secrets about her own family. Sometimes gorgeous, sometimes terrifying, this novel marks the debut of a talented writer.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the summer of 1964, 19-year-old Celeste Tyree, straddling the strong race consciousness of her father and the race aversion of her estranged mother, takes time off from college and her white boyfriend, traveling from Michigan to Mississippi to lend her efforts to Freedom Summer. She ends up in the small town of Pineyville, helping to register voters and witnessing the kind of poverty and racism her father fought to leave behind. Her father, Shuck Tyree, owner of a successful bar in Detroit, is horrified at his daughter’s recklessness and proud of her bravery as he wonders how responsible he might be for her decision. On the front line of issues regarding race, social change, and violence, Celeste is forced to confront all of her compartmentalized and comfortable notions about life. This debut novel by Nicholas, former star of the television series Room 222 and In the Heat of the Night, offers a sensitive and absorbing story of a young woman coming of age emotionally and racially. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
“Nicholas brings alive the texture and emotion of the civil rights movement during the perilous adventure that was Freedom Summer.” — Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander
About the Author
Denise Nicholas is an actor who starred in the TV series Room 222 and In the Heat of the Night, among many other TV, film, and theatrical productions. Freshwater Road is her first novel.
Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas
Leave a Reply