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Gathering of Waters

Gathering of Waters

What people are saying...

Praise for Bernice L. McFadden:

"McFadden works a kind of miracle - not only do her characters retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises . . . Beautiful and evocative." -Jesmyn Ward, New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice), on Gathering of Waters

"Read it aloud. Hire a chorus to chant it to you and anyone else interested in hearing about civil rights and uncivil desires."
-Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered (NPR), on Gathering of Waters


Gathering of Waters is a deeply engrossing tale narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi--a site both significant and infamous in our collective story as a nation. Money is personified in this haunting story, which chronicles its troubled history following the arrival of the Hilson and Bryant families.

Tass Hilson and Emmett Till were young and in love when Emmett was brutally murdered in 1955. Anxious to escape the town, Tass marries Maximillian May and relocates to Detroit.

Forty years later, after the death of her husband, Tass returns to Money and fantasy takes flesh when Emmett Till's spirit is finally released from the dank, dark waters of the Tallahatchie River. The two lovers are reunited, bringing the story to an enchanting and profound conclusion.

Gathering of Waters mines the truth about Money, Mississippi, as well as the town's families, and threads their history over decades. The bare-bones realism--both disturbing and riveting--combined with a magical realm in which ghosts have the final say, is reminiscent of Toni Morrison's Beloved.

Read More about Gathering of Waters


The Warmest December Book Cover

The Warmest December (Reissue)

"McFadden's reissued second novel takes an unflinching look at the corrosive nature of alcoholism . . . This is not a story of easy redemption . . . McFadden writes candidly about the treacherous hold of addiction." --Publishers Weekly

"Riveting. . . . So nicely avoids the sentimentality that swirls around the subject matter. I am as impressed by its structural strength as by the searing and expertly imagined scenes." --Toni Morrison, author of Beloved

"This is a story that cuts across all race and social strata in its need to be told." --The Dallas Morning News

The Warmest December is the incredibly moving story of one Brooklyn family and the alcoholism that determined years of their lives. Narrated by Kenzie Lowe, a young woman reminiscent of Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John, as she visits her dying father and finds that choices she once thought beyond her control are very much hers to make.

My Name is Butterfly

My Name is Butterfly

(Available in e-book format only, purchase now for your Kindle , Nook, or Smashwords)

Abebe experiences plenty of joy in Ghana as the privileged daughter of a government employee and stay at home mother. The love that her parents and extended family lavish her with knows no bounds.

When the Tsikata's idyllic life style begins to take a turn for the worse, Abebe's father places a nine-year-old Abebe in a shrine, hoping that the sacrifice of his daughter will serve as religious atonement for the crimes of his ancestors. Unspeakable acts befall Abebe for the fifteen years she is enslaved.

When Abebe is finally released back into the world and finds herself not only dealing with the newness of Ghana, but also the fast-paced world of New York, she is broken -- emotionally, mentally, physically, sexually, and spiritually. But to live the rest of her years on earth, she must learn to overcome her past, endure familial secrets, and learn to love herself--the good, the bad, and the ugly.

In the tradition of Chris Cleave's Little Bee -- My Name Is Butterfly, is a contemporary story that offers an educational, eye opening account into the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa. 

Spanning decades and two continents, My Name Is Butterfly will break and heal your heart...


Akashic Books
(May 1, 2010)


"The seeming inevitability of cruel fate juxtaposes the triumph of the spirit in this remarkably rich and powerful novel, Glorious. Bernice McFadden's fully realized characters are complicated, imperfect beings, but if ever a character were worthy of love and honor, it is her Easter Bartlett. This very American story is fascinating; it is also heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and beautifully written."-Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of The Scenic Route

Glorious is set against the backdrops of the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights era. Blending the truth of American history with the fruits of Bernice L. McFadden's rich imagination, this is the story of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose tumultuous path to success, ruin, and revival offers a candid portrait of the American experience in all its beauty and cruelty.

Glorious is ultimately an audacious exploration into the nature of self-hatred, love, possession, ego, betrayal, and, finally, redemption.










Nowhere is a Place

McFadden weaves together a terrific multigenerational family tale that, like Alex Hailey's Roots, will inspire readers to research their family history. Writing in a mystical style similar to that of Gloria Naylor's Bailey's Cafe, McFadden is an imaginative storyteller who mesmerizes readers with her words."

- Library Journal

From Bernice L. McFadden, whom the novelist Adriana Trigiani calls “a master story teller,” comes a touching new novel about a young woman uncovering a surprising family history filled in measure with dark secrets and life-affirming wisdom

Her spectacular debut novel Sugar established Bernice L. McFadden as a writer to watch in African-American literary fiction. In Nowhere is a Place, she limns a fully realized and memorable portrait of a young woman on a journey of self-discovery.

Sherry has struggled all her life to understand who she is, where she comes from, and, most importantly, why her mother slapped her cheek one summer afternoon. The incident has haunted Sherry and it causes her to dig into her family's past. Like many family histories, it is fractured and stubbornly reluctant to reveal its secrets, but Sherry is determined to know the full story. In just a few days' time her extended family will gather for a reunion and Sherry sets off across the country with her mother, Dumpling to join them. What Sherry and Dumpling find on their trip is far more important than a scenic site here and there-it is the assorted pieces of their family's past. Pulled together, they reveal a history of amazing survival and abundant joy.

Nowhere is a Place is a graceful, richly imagined work by McFadden; it promises to bring a new audience of admirers.








Camilla's Roses

" The poignant tale of a woman who discovers the fragility of life and strength of a family's love, from an author praised by Toni Morrison for "searing expertly imagined scenes."

Camilla and her husband have successful careers and a beautiful young daughter. Then she discovers a lump in her breast and realizes too late that she has turned her back on the people whose support she needs the most. Generations of women in her family, moving from a southern small town to Queens, New York, have carried the middle name Rose, and some have carried a legacy of breast cancer. But Camilla has been estranged from her unruly family since she went to college, leaving behind a drug-addicted mother, a grandmother raising scads of abandoned grandchildren, and an addled great-aunt. Ashamed of her family and her race, she lightened her skin and adopted a false background. She is living a complete lie when tragedy strikes. McFadden, author of Sugar (2000) and This Bitter Earth (2002), will enrapture readers again as she moves between the past and the present and the perspectives of different characters to tell a story of family and reconciliation. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved







Loving Donovan

Toni Morrison called her writing "searing and expertly imagined"; Terry McMillan said she's "a welcomed voice in the literary world." Bernice L. McFadden, bestselling author of three award winning novels, unfurls a bittersweet love story in three parts: Her, Him, Them.

The first section of this unconventional love story belongs to Campbell. Despite being born to a faithless father, Campbellstill believes in the power of love...if she can ever find it. Living in the same neighborhood, but unknown to Campbell until a chance meeting brings them together, is Donovan, the "little man" of a shattered home - a family torn apart by anger and bitterness. In the face of the se daunting obstacles, Donovan dreams of someday marrying, raising a family, and playing for the NBA. But deep inside, Campbell and Donovan live with the histories that have shaped their lives. What they discover - together and apart - forms the basis of this compelling, sensual and surprising novel.

A deeply thoughtful novel about hope, forgiveness, and the cost of loving Donovan.

This Bitter Earth

Bestselling author Bernice L. McFadden returns with a novel that continues the story of Sugar Lacey, the unforgettable heroine of McFadden's critically acclaimed debut novel.

This Bitter Earth picks up where Sugar left off: on the dirt road leading to Sugar's childhood home in Short Junction, Arkansas. Here, Sugar hears a shocking revelation about unrequited love, and about one man's hatred--and the black magic that has cursed generations. Her travels take Sugar to St. Louis, where the bonds of an old friendship test the limits of her courage and compassion--and the sacrifices she will make for another young woman in desperate need of a caring friend.

Filled with the lyrical language, haunting imagery, and compelling voice that imbued Sugar with its power and grace, This Bitter Earth is a novel about the inexorable power that the past exerts over us and about our ability to triumph over adversity and sorrow. Earthy and richly evocative, it is a testament to the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.


The Warmest December

"Riveting. The Warmest December so nicely avoids the sentimentality that swirls all around the subject matter. I am as impressed by its structural strength as by the searing and expertly imagined scenes."
     --Toni Morrison

With an engaging vitality, second-novelist McFadden explores a daughter's troubled relationship with her abusive alcoholic father. McFadden has perfect emotional pitch and one, telling it like it is.... A well-rendered tale."
      --Kirkus Reviews

In her second novel, THE WARMEST DECEMBER, published by Dutton in January 2001, Bernice L. McFadden establishes herself as a writer whose lyrical prose and ability to tackle difficult topics will move even the most stoic of readers.

Set in Brooklyn, NY, McFadden's birthplace and current residence, narrator Kenzie Lowe tells an intensely moving story that begins with her childhood in the 1970's growing up with her abusive, alcoholic father, Hy-Lo. Everyday young Kenzie lives in fear that her too loud footsteps, her too high voice, will unleash the animal that lurks within her father. With every sip of liquor, with every hurtful word and stinging slap, Kenzie's fear and hatred of her father grows. To get through each painful day, Kenzie dreams of escaping Hy-Lo's prison and fleeing from apartment A5 forever.

Eventually, Kenzie does grow up and leaves A5. She goes to school, she holds odd jobs and develops her own craving for the bottle. Twenty years have passed- it is now the 1990's- but not everything has changed for Kenzie. She is still haunted by her childhood. Learning that her father is in the hospital, Kenzie is shocked at her desire to be with him during his final hours. She returns day after day to her father's bedside in search of a way to quell her pain.

These trips to the hospital teach Kenzie that some of us, like Hy-Lo, have stories that "started out bad, curdled andsouredin the middle and ended up worse." Kenzie learns that some of us can't help what we do but for many, there is still hope for change. Understanding this, Kenzie begins toreclaim her own life, allowing her scars to heal and her heart to forgive.

Bernice L. McFadden explains that she wrote THE WARMEST DECEMBER, "because children of addictive and/or abusiveparents walk the thinnest line between love and hate, sanity and madness, life and death." Shechose this topic because she "wanted more... to help someone choose love, sanity and life." In a bleak and chaotic world where violence is all too rampant, THE WARMEST DECEMBER

teaches us that nothing is beyond our control.


Discussion Questions


"One of the most compelling and thought-provoking novels I've read in years." -- Terry McMillan

Strong and folksy storytelling...think Zora Neale Hurston... Sugar speaks of what is real. -- The Dallas Morning News

Unforgettable...a haunting story that keeps pages turning until the end. -- Ebony

Vivid. -- The New York Times Book Review

From an exciting new voice in African-American contemporary fiction comes a novel Ebony praised for its "unforgettable images, unique characters, and moving story that keeps the pages turning until the end." The Chicago Defender calls Sugar "a literary explosion...McFadden reveals amazing talent." The novel opens when a young prostitute comes to Bigelow, Arkansas, to start over, far from her haunting past. Sugar moves next door to Pearl, who is still grieving for the daughter who was murdered fifteen years before. Over sweet-potato pie, an unlikely friendship begins, transforming both women's lives--and the life of an entire town.

Sugar brings a Southern African-American town vividly to life, with its flowering magnolia trees, lingering scents of jasmine and honeysuckle, and white picket fences that keep strangers out--but ignorance and superstition in. To read this novel is to take a journey through loss and suffering to a place of forgiveness, understanding, and grace.

Writing as Geneva Holliday


Mildred Johnson is the last woman on earth that gorgeous Tony Landry would dare to be seen with. That is, until Tony wants to pull a scam on the company where she works. In order to keep Mildred signing phony documents, Tony gives Mildred a taste of romance and keeps raising the stakes until he's eventually forced to propose. But when the big day arrives he skips town with the money he's stolen.

Mildred takes a trip to Barbados to mend her heartbreak but her “vacation” turns out to be a boot camp–style weight loss clinic! Soon she discovers a goddess that had been hiding beneath her homely exterior. And when she runs into Tony on the island, he doesn't even recognize the sexy fox standing before him. Little does he know that this fox has a plan for revenge that will leave him whimpering with his tail between his legs for a good, long time.




Geneva Holliday got your Groove on, gave you Fever, and now she turns up the Heat, in her wildest novel yet. Between their bedroom antics and their busy lives, Crystal, Geneva, Chevy and Noah are all faced with situations that are way too hot to handle....

Crystal – Crystal's finding it hard to concentrate at work, and no wonder-she's got a stud in Antigua who's beginning to mean more to her than just steamy sex.

Geneva – Things are red-hot with Deeka, Geneva's sexy young man. Still, she worries that there's too much of her to love. But the diet pills she turns to stir up more trouble than her collection of slinky lingerie ever did.

Chevy – With her paycheck almost entirely garnished, it's a good thing she can crash at Noah's apartment. But when he returns from London, the two friends have a big blowout and Chevy has to resort to sex with an ex to keep a roof over her head.

Noah – Noah and his partner can't come to an agreement about adopting children, but one thing's for sure: A blast from his little-known past with a woman is about to rock his world in ways he never dreamed of.

As you can see, it's been a long, cold winter. And everyone's entitled to a little spring fever.

"The hot, entertaining novel offers a delicious mix of sex and plot that'll keep you reading until the wee morning hours."
-Dallas Morning News, in praise of FEVER


It's almost summer in New York City, and the heat is breaking records on the street and between the sheets in Geneva Holliday's beyond-sexy follow-up to Groove. When Geneva, Crystal, Chevy, and Noah get hot and bothered, they get way more than they ever bargained for...

Geneva is busy caring for her daughter-and robbing the cradle with her son's business manager. Chevy is working for a diva who requires assistance that's way too personal for Chevy's liking. Crystal is in for the surprise of her life when her mom (!) conspires to get Crystal's engine purring like a kitten again. And Noah hears everyone's secrets, miles away in London, but with these friends, secrets don't stay secret for long! After all, what are friends for?

So slip into something slinky and get ready to catch the Fever!


Geneva Holliday's juicy novel brings a lighter touch to African American erotica, setting the sexual escapades amid the real-life folly and drama of four very different friends during one incredibly hot summer in New York City. This funny, sexy book has something for everyone!

Bernice McFadden's Books are available on-line at these fine booksellers...