“It’s easier to kill a man than a gator, but it takes the same kind of wait. You got to watch for the weakness, and take your shot to the back of the head. "
I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and those are the first lines to Deb Spera’s novel Call Your Daughter Home.
The story takes place in 1924 in Branchville, South Carolina, shortly after the region’s economy was decimated by a boll weevil infestation. It’s told through the voices of three women: Gertrude Pardee, mother to four girls under the age of 15, married to an abusive husband who drinks away any money they might use for the essentials of life; Oretta Bootles, a Black woman who lives in Shake Rag, works for the wealthiest family in town and loves her husband with all her heart and Annie Coles, owner of a local garment company and wife to Edwin, an influential plantation proprietor.
This is not an easy book to read because of the child, spousal and racial abuses that the characters have endured. But the women in the story show such amazing strength. Oretta, in particular, relies on her strong faith to always do the right thing even if it goes against the popular thinking of the day. She saves the lives of both Gertrude and Annie.
The author states that though Branchville is a real place, her characters are “complete inventions of her imagination, each an amalgamation of many women she found or knows that have endured hardship because of their circumstance or skin color.” Though there are many injustices through most of the book, justice is served at the end.
If you’re looking for a well written book with strong female characters, then you must read Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera.