For a runaway slave in the 1840s South, life on the run can be just as dangerous as life under a sadistic master. That's what fifteen-year-old Naomi learns after she escapes the brutal confines of life on an Alabama plantation. Striking out on her own, she leaves behind her beloved Momma and sister Hazel and takes refuge in a Georgia brothel run by a freewheeling, gun-toting Jewish madam named Cynthia. There, amid a revolving door of gamblers, prostitutes, and drunks, Naomi falls into a star-crossed love affair with a smooth-talking white man named Jeremy who frequents the brothel's dice tables all too often.
The product of Naomi and Jeremy's union is Josey, whose white skin and blonde hair mark her as different from the other slave children on the plantation. Having been taken in as an infant by a free slave named Charles, Josey has never known her mother, who was murdered at her birth. Josey soon becomes caught in the tide of history when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reaches the declining estate and a day of supposed freedom quickly turns into a day of unfathomable violence that will define Josey—and her lost mother—for years to come.
Deftly weaving together the stories of Josey and Naomi—who narrates the entire novel, unable to leave her daughter alone in the land of the living—Grace is a sweeping, intergenerational saga featuring a group of outcast women during one of the most compelling eras in American history. It is a universal story of freedom, love, and motherhood, told in a dazzling and original voice and set against a rich and transporting historical backdrop.