Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pg. 69: Tayari Jones' "The Untelling"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Untelling by Tayari Jones.

About the book, from the author's website:
When Aria Jackson was nine, a car accident killed her father and baby sister, forever destroying her family’s secure middle-class life. The tragedy left her elegant mother, her rebellious sister, and Aria herself wounded by grief, rage, and guilt. Caught between her mother’s bitter dissatisfaction and her sister’s efforts to distance herself from the family altogether, Aria grew up alone, despite sharing a crowded home with her mother and sister.

At age twenty-five, Aria has created a meaningful life for herself, living in a not-quite gentrified inner-city neighborhood, teaching literacy to teenaged girls. For the first time in her life, she has both a best girlfriend in whom she can confide and a boyfriend who offers her love and respect.

When Aria discovers she may be pregnant, she is seduced by the promise of family, the lure of a normal life, and the dream of a fresh start. Then everything changes in ways she never anticipated. As she mediates between her past and her altered reality, she unearths secrets about family and friends and searches for the courage to divulge one heartbreaking revelation about herself.

Poignant, evocative, and luminously insightful, The Untelling speaks of the truths we hide even from ourselves, the circumstances that can either undermine or restore us, and the transformative power of examining all that we keep untold.
Among the praise for The Untelling:
"Jones went to the wilderness and mounted a wild and bucking story. The Untelling is a mustang. Free. Bold. Classy. No sophomore jitters here. No timidity. Just a strong wind swirling the truth, hoping for love, daring the reader to inhale the forgiveness.”
—Nikki Giovanni, author of Spin a Soft Black Song

"A story of deep hurt and slow realization, injury and recovery, and the way people genuinely change their lives. I love it."
—Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

"Sometimes wry, sometimes poignant, always honest…Jones is a keen guide…her descriptions have an almost tender quality. In the end, Aria has managed to acquire both dignity and sympathy, and The Untelling has worked a most…welcome charm."
Washington Post Book World

"Succeeds mightily...truly a wonderful story. Jones is a talent to be reckoned with."
Boston Globe

"Convincing and genuine."
Publishers Weekly

"Jones is a remarkable novelist, able to face down the tragedies of life with the clarity and beauty and even the dark humor of a true artist…A flat-out brilliant writer."—Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
Read an excerpt from The Untelling, and learn more about the book and author at Tayari Jones' website and her blog.

Tayari Jones' first novel, Leaving Atlanta, won the 2003 Hurston/Wright Award for debut fiction.

The Page 69 Test: The Untelling.

--Marshal Zeringue