Noon and Herbie are deeply in love and living in a tightly knit African American neighborhood in South Philadelphia during the 1940s. But their marriage remains unconsummated because of a horrible incident in Noon's past, so each seeks comfort elsewhere: Noon in the warm acceptance of the neighborhood church; Herbie in the arms of Ethel, a jazz singer. Then one day an infant girl is left on their doorstep, and later Ethel blesses them with her five-year-old niece. Suddenly and unexpectedly a family, Herbie, Noon, and their two girls draw closer--until an outside threat reawakens a fire in Noon, causing her to rise up and fight to hold her family and her community together. Diane McKinney-Whetstone's "Tumbling" is a poignant, exquisitely rendered story of the ties that bind us and the secrets that keep us apart.
Diane McKinney-Whetstone's lyrical first novel, Tumbling, vividly captures a tightly knit African-American neighborhood in South Philadelphia during the forties and fifties. Its central characters, Herbie and Noon, are a loving but unconventional couple whose marriage remains unconsummated for many years as Noon struggles to repossess her sexuality after a brutal attack in her past. While she seeks salvation in the church, Herbie gains sexual gratification in the arms of a bewitching jazz singer named Ethel, a woman who profoundly affects both Noon's and Herbie's lives when she leaves with them, first, a baby girl and then later, a five-year-old named Liz. When a road planned by the city council threatens to break up this South Philadelphia neighborhood, the community must band together. Unexpectedly, Noon rises up and takes the lead in the opposition, fighting for all she's worth to keep her family and community together. Tumbling is a beautiftilly rendered, poignant story about the ties that bind us and the secrets that keep us apart. With striking lyricism, Diane McKinney-Whetstone keenly guides us through the world of community, family, and the human heart.
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