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‘Geechee Girls

The Ogeechee River runs through cypress swamps to reach Savannah’s Low Country. Its waters are deep and black and haunted. In this semi-tropical world, oleander, magnolias, and azaleas sweeten the heavy air. Copperheads and cottonmouths, papermills and trailer parks disrupt the innocence of Tessie Harnish, and her best friend, Annie Osaha. The girls, one white and one black, share ‘Geechee blood and their secrets.


With the ear of a poet and the eye of a fiction writer and the tongue of a true storyteller, Lisa Harris takes us to heavy-hot Georgia, a near-Savannah family full of love and anger turning through time: a young wife who keeps her husband away with chicken blood; a baby encouraged to eat the pages of her storybooks, who grows up to become a girl strong in her own mind’s magic, more important to her than believing in others’ truths. With deft movement among points of view, Harris unfolds the intricacies of the lore of the Ogeechee tribe, “as old as the red clay” everywhere in her characters’ world in which the Christian Son and the pagan Sun dance together, light and light. “I am like a snake,” young Tessie thinks, and she is not afraid to venture into a swamp—as this novel of the deep South is not afraid to make us find the copper in our own dreams, the cobalt in our bluest fears.

Katharyn Howd Machan, author of Redwing: Voices from 1888

Lisa Harris is one of the few writers I've read recently who manages to put genuine lyrical writing to the services of characterization. her sense of place, of the weather, of the land, of the delicate changes of mood that color a relationship, of the growing into full sensuous and intellectual awareness--all that is extraordinary. She has a feel for history and an understanding for the way in which a single detail or moment can body forth. She writes, it seems to me, governed by a vision she refuses to sell short, and she writes with passion and precision.

Lamar Herrin, author of The Lies Boys Tell


Before dawn when the clouds gather again, the peepers sing—croaking and squeaking from under magnolia leaves, from beneath mimosa branches, and from their perches on exposed roots. Stars are driven back from the sky, and the rain comes from the satiny blackness.