A Sitting in St. James

The masterful Rita Williams-Garcia depicts the brutality and inhumanity of slavery in the antebellum South in this Boston Globe-Horn Book Award-winning and Indie Next List title. Williams-Garcia intertwines the lives of the white Guilbert family and the Black people they enslaved in this shocking and dramatic novel.

In 1860s St. James, La., Madame Sylvie prepares to sit for a portrait with a well-known artist. As Madame gets ready to participate in this even-for-her-time mostly antiquated tradition, she nags her family into getting their affairs in order. With an extensive cast of characters, Williams-Garcia uses history to create the drama, constantly exposing how white slave owners depended completely on those they enslaved. Mature content and themes are treated with nuance and subtlety, but Williams-Garcia makes the cruelty clear: there is abuse, rape and child murder. In this traumatic and heartbreaking novel, she uncovers the vicious, disturbing realities enslaved people faced. --Kharissa Kenner, children's librarian, Bank Street School for Children

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