The Peach Seed by Anita Gail Jones

The Peach Seed by Anita Gail Jones
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Fletcher Dukes and Altovise Benson reunite after decades apart―and a mountain of secrets―in this debut exploring the repercussions of a single choice and how an enduring talisman challenges and holds a family together.

On a routine trip to the Piggly Wiggly in Albany, Georgia, widower Fletcher Dukes smells a familiar perfume, then sees a tall woman the color of papershell pecans with a strawberry birthmark on the nape of her neck. He knows immediately that she is his lost love, Altovise Benson. Their bond, built on county fairs, sit-ins, and marches, once seemed a sure and forever thing. But their marriage plans were disrupted when the police turned a peaceful protest violent.

Before Altovise fled the South, Fletcher gave her a peach seed monkey with diamond eyes. As we learn via harrowing flashbacks, an enslaved ancestor on the coast of South Carolina carved the first peach seed, a talisman that, ever since, each father has gifted his son on his thirteenth birthday.

Giving one to Altovise initiated a break in tradition, irrevocably shaping the lives of generations of Dukeses. Recently, Fletcher has made do on his seven acres with his daughter Florida’s check-ins, his drop biscuits, and his faithful dog. But as he begins to reckon with long-ago choices, he finds he isn’t the only one burdened with unspoken truths.

An indelible portrait of a family, The Peach Seed explores how kin pass down legacies of sorrow, joy, and strength. And it is a parable of how a glimmer of hope as small as a seed can ripple across generations.

Fletcher Dukes and Altovise Benson shared a youthful love nearly fifty years ago, will a secret unravel their chance for a loving life together?

This novel follows the Duke family and the dynamics of their family over a span of generations. I was excited once I read the excerpt and was looking forward to reading about the Duke family’s male tradition. What a wonderful idea to follow the first peach seed talisman and how its inheritance was passed down through generations. I enjoyed the story, however I felt that the author was doing too much and there were too many storylines and backstories that watered down such a good plot. I was left wondering what the main story was.

For example, the enslaved story of Malik Wele’ did not quite fit nor really tie into the current day family event. Malik’s story could have been a quick explanation of how the tradition started. Then there was the backstory of Fletcher Dukes and Altovise Benson along with the other parts of the novel that included Bo D’s story about his battle with drug addiction and there was Siman Miller discovering and connecting with his biological family.

The story only seemed to focus on specific family members, and not much time was spent on Georgia and Mozell. It was understood that Fletcher had remorse at not having boys to continue the family tradition, but the names were odd, Fletcher’s children called him Ourdaddy and Fletcher’s nickname for his daughters were ‘son’. Not sure what purpose was served including so much talk about the Albany Civil Rights Movement, and that the family helped with the campaign for Obama, but it was mentioned several times throughout the story. The book was told from several points of view. There were a lot of characters named which made me wonder why they were being mentioned or what was their importance in the story.

I rated the book a three star because of what I stated above, however what I took from the story was that the family is resilient, that they stick together and are able to work out their disagreements and differences. I like the idea of the peach seed being passed down as a rite of passage as custom tradition. Also, there had to be someone of skill to continue to carry the knowledge of carving the peach seeds, but it seemed to stop with Fletcher. I don’t think Bo D was taught how to carve. I enjoyed reading about Fletcher and Altovise. Their past story and their love for each other was still there after so many years had passed. Their love would have been a story all to itself and the secret that Altovise brought with her gave the story some of the climax. The author included drug and alcohol addiction which was a way to show the family’s strength and endurance to overcome their obstacles and that they are able to seek help in order to stay strong.

I enjoyed the story, the realness of the situation and events made for a pleasant read. Overall, it was a good story idea, with some structure and a better outline this could have been an even better story. The idea of telling about the rite of passage, seeing the growth and maturity in the Duke family was inspiring, I will definitely give the author another try.

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