Author: Kelly Mustian
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark on Apr. 6, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Sourcebooks Landmark
Book Rating: 8.5/10
Set in 1920s Mississippi, this debut Southern novel weaves a beautiful and harrowing story of two teenage girls cast in an unlikely partnership through murder—perfect for readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and If the Creek Don’t Rise.
Ada promised herself she would never go back to the Trace, to her hard life on the swamp and her harsh father. But now, after running away to Baton Rouge and briefly knowing a different kind of life, she finds herself with nowhere to go but back home. And she knows there will be a price to pay with her father.
Matilda, daughter of a sharecropper, is from the other side of the Trace. Doing what she can to protect her family from the whims and demands of some particularly callous locals is an ongoing struggle. She forms a plan to go north, to pack up the secrets she’s holding about her life in the South and hang them on the line for all to see in Ohio.
As the two girls are drawn deeper into a dangerous world of bootleggers and moral corruption, they must come to terms with the complexities of their tenuous bond and a hidden past that links them in ways that could cost them their lives.
Gritty, immersive, and powerful!
The Girls in the Stilt House is a captivating, moving tale that sweeps you away to the heat, humidity and stickiness of the 1920s Mississippi swamplands and into the lives of two teenage girls, Ada Morgan, a young white girl, pregnant and alone, who with nowhere else to turn reluctantly returns home to a sadistic father with a penchant for cruelty, and Matilda Patterson, the black daughter of a sharecropper who spends her time writing of the ongoing prejudice and poverty found in the south while dreaming of moving to the north, two girls from completely different backgrounds who after a moment of shared violence are bound together forever.
The prose is eloquent and descriptive. The characters are raw, tormented, and fragile. And the plot is a heart-tugging tale of life, love, violence, hardship, terror, racism, dreams, resilience, loss, hope, redemption, and survival.
The Girls in the Stilt House is a perceptive, compelling, fabulous debut by Mustian that is an excellent reminder that compassion, kindness, and strength come in many forms that ultimately transcend socioeconomics, skin colour, and the deepest, darkest of realities.
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Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.