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 Fiction Review   

 

 

The Untelling
By Tayari Jones
Warner Books, 2005
Hardcover $24.95 (324 pages)
ISBN: 0-446-53246-0
 
 

Tayari Jones is a terrific storyteller. In The Untelling, she takes on the themes of family secrets, deep-seated sorrow, and the bonds anger can't diminish.  

Aria Jackson was born into an upwardly mobile family. Aria's mother has given each of her daughters a name "to grow into." Aria's parents were educated at Morehouse and Spelman. They understand the American dream and want their share. When one of their daughters misbehaves, she's gently reminded "that's not what Dr. King's died for." 

At nine, Aria, her parents, and her two sisters (one older and one younger) are on their way to the spring performance at the YWCA. In route, the Jacksons are involved in a car accident that transforms the family from an intact loving, happy family unit to a fractured, hurt trio. 

As an adult, Aria believes she's found a way to give back to the community, overcome her guilt, and build a life without her mother, sister, and two decades of unhappiness. She's teaching GED classes to young women who haven't had the advantages of her Spellman degree. She and her roommate have found good, loving men. For the first time in years, Aria believes she has the capacity for happiness. 

For better or worse, life still has a few surprises in store for Aria. The changes in her force the women around her to question their choices and circumstances. 

Tayari Jones, who was born in Atlanta in 1970, is currently an assistant professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her first novel, Leaving Atlanta, garnered critical and commercial success, earning the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award as well as "Best Novel of the Year" by Atlanta Magazine and Creative Loafing.

 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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