Acasia Olson's The Book of Jo is the story of transgenerational trauma and the journey towards healing. At the center is Jo, a precocious little girl, adopted at infancy, into the loving arms of Opal, a God-fearing, older Black woman who can't have children of her own. Jo lives in a world of grand opposites. Her mother loves her sacrificially and unconditionally, but her dad commits horrible acts against her. Jo grows up during the Jim Crow Era in the bustling city of Birmingham, Alabama. She navigates a world of misogyny, racism and sexual abuse while privately struggling to piece together her identity and sense of belonging.
The book follows Jo as she becomes a young mother at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. Just a few years later, with racial discrimination a pervasive threat, she is presented with a chance to apply to a nursing program. Jo must find a way to care for her mother, provide for her family, and maintain stability as each year of her life seems to present new trials.
Will she draw from the love and wisdom of her mother or crash under the waves of the pain and trauma that shape her world?