Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, A Kind of Freedom
Sexton’s powerful first novel, which made the longlist for the National Book Award, traces the complex downward spiral of a black family in New Orleans from World War Two through to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She begins with Evelyn, a Creole debutante, who falls for Renard, from a lower-class family, in 1944, a time of Jim Crow segregation. Her family objects, but as Renard heads to war, their bond is set. In the 1980s their daughter Jackie struggles to raise her son after her husband Terry loses his pharmacist job and begins using crack cocaine. By 2010, Jackie’s son TC is released from Orleans Parish Prison after a stint for drug possession, eager to redeem himself, surrounded by temptation. Despite struggles, A Kind of Freedom glimmers with hope.