Cold Rock River Author:J. L. Miles In 1963 rural Georgia, with the Vietnam War cranking up, pregnant seventeen-year-old Adie Jenkins discovers the diary of pregnant seventeen-year-old Tempe Jordan, a slave girl, begun as the Civil War was winding down. Adie is haunted by the memory of her dead sister; Tempe is overcome with grief over the sale of her three children sired by her m... more »aster. Adie -- married to Buck, her baby's skirt-chasing father -- is unprepared for marriage and motherhood. She spends her days with new baby Grace. Buck spends his with the conniving vamp Imelda Jane.
Adie welcomes the friendship of midwife Willa Mae Satterfield. Having grown close to her after Grace's birth, she confides that her baby sister, Annie, survived choking on a jelly bean only to drown in Cold Rock River a few months later. Willa Mae says, "My two little chillins George and Calvin drowns in that river too." What she WON'T say is who and why.
Adie takes refuge in Tempe's journal. It tells an amazing tale:
"When "the freedom" comes, Tempe sets out to find her children but never finds them, and she settles in Macon, Georgia, where she meets Tom Barber, a former slave from a Savannah plantation. They marry and have a daughter nicknamed Heart, and though she's "a bit slow in the head," they adore her. Tom is good to Tempe, and she remains by his side, ever faithful, until she discovers something she can't live with -- a truth so devastating she vows never to speak of it again."
Adie continues to pore over Tempe's diary, which seems to raise more questions than it answers. After Tom is killed in a drunken brawl, Tempe takes Heart to north Georgia, settling on a small patch of land and taking up midwifery to support them both. Eventually she marries an elderly neighbor and gives birth to two more children, Georgia and Calvin. Adie is filled with questions. Could Willa Mae be Heart? Could the children in the diary have been hers? How -- and why -- did they drown? And is it possible that the man who owns the house in which she lives is Willa Mae's grandson?
As "Cold Rock River" comes to its surprising, shocking ending, questions of family, race, love, loss, and longing are loosed from the mysterious secrets that have been kept for too long -- and the depth of the mysterious connection between two women united by place and separated by race and a hundred years is revealed.« less