Follow a black teen as she finds her place among a family of women gifted with magical abilities.
In the Jim Crow South, white supremacy reigns and tensions are high. But Evalene Deschamps has other things to worry about. She has two little sisters to look after, an overworked single mother, and a longtime crush who is finally making a move.
On top of all that, Evvie’s magic abilities are growing stronger by the day. Her family calls it jubilation—a gift passed down from generations of black women since the time of slavery. And as Evvie’s talents waken, something dark comes loose and threatens to resurface…
And when the demons of Evvie’s past finally shake free, she must embrace her mighty lineage, and summon the power that lies within her.
Kara Lee Corthron lives and writes in New York City. She’s written many plays that have been performed around the U.S. including AliceGraceAnon, Welcome to Fear City, Listen for the Light, and Holly Down in Heaven, which won her the Princess Grace Award (and a dance with Prince Albert II, of Monaco). The Truth of Right Now is her first novel and the winner of the Parents' Choice Gold Award.
2020 publishing is determined to ruin me. I mean I think this is the 4th time I’ve cried this year because of a book and it takes a lot to make me cry because of a book. Quite honestly I was surprised by Daughters of Jubilation. I went into the book expecting a certain kind of magic and got something more powerful. It’s not your typical or traditional fantasy. It explores some very difficult, but very real topics that have affected Black women. This book definitely has trigger warns for rape, attempted rape, use of racial slurs, and violence.
Daughters of Jubilation is set in 1962 in South Carolina and follows 16 year old Evvie as she learns about her “jube,” a magic that has been passed down an endless line of Black women. She doesn’t quite understand it’s purpose or how to control it, but when something from her past resurfaces she must learn all that she can. Evvie is a bad ass character. She’s resilient, she takes no nonsense. Evvie is the type of character that you want as a friend and I loved that she did everything in her power to make her friends feel comfortable. She was always aware and considerate of how people felt even if she didn’t quite understand. There’s also a romance in this book between Evvie and Clay that seems to happen to fast but it does slow down and readers get the opportunity to see their romance develop. There is sex on page several times but it’s treated with care and normalcy and quite honestly I loved that. To see the sex positivity was refreshing. There was even a point where there was a discussion about the importance of protection and respect. Overall, there were so many positive relationships in this book and I loved it especially the relationship between Evvie and her grandmother. She reminded me so much my great-grandmother that it hurt my heart. She's wise and caring, but in her own way. She doesn't follow anyone's rules and I loved that.
This book is laced with history albeit painful, dark history but it’s important to the narrative and I understand why Corthron felt it important to make this a true Southern fantasy. The writing is written in dialect which makes the reader feel more immersed in the story. For me, it felt like home. My moms side of the family is from South Carolina so I felt a personal connection to a lot of the discussions and the dialect used within the book. The magic system was interesting and definitely serves a purpose that I didn’t expect by just reading the synopsis. I think that a lot of people aren't going to expect the way that the magic system and the plot work together. It was just a well put together book and I absolutely devoured it. I’m hoping that this book gets a sequel because that ending!!!
This book was a blend of darkness and joy. If the mention of Jim Crow causes you to hesitate with this book I suggest putting aside your fears and picking this up anyway. If the subject matter makes you feel uncomfortable it should. The violence and pain our ancestors have experienced some of which we still experience today is very real but still we rise.
You can read the synopsis but you never truly know what you're getting into until you open up the pages. Yes, there is violence in Daughters of Jubilation as our young heroine, Evvie navigates living in South Carolina in 1962. Sometimes it feels like she has no options and her dreams are beyond far fetched. But in the midst of those moments there is joy.
Evvie is coming into her own with her powers of jubilation. Jubilation is a hard to explain gift passed down through her bloodline from generation to generation. It can protect them when they need it the most. But right now for Evvie these powers are hard to control. And she needs her Grammie's guidance to help her get a handle of them.
All the while she is balancing new love with Clay, the boy she's crushed on for some time, babysitting a bratty white child, helping take care of her little sisters, and trying to keep the peace with her momma. As if all that isn't enough a dangerous white man from her past reappears intending to hurt her even more than he had before.
This book is written in an easy to connect to dialect and though there's violent trauma there's the joy of discovering new love, embracing your family for all that they are, and discovering yourself. The themes of finding your power resonate.
Kara Lee Corthron offers a nuanced portrayal of growing up Black in The South in the 60s under the hot summer heat trying to survive the racism and hardships thrown your way while also living life enjoying music, movies, and good food. I was lucky enough to receive an arc in exchange for honest review from the publisher.
Daughters of Jubilation is set in the Jim Crow South. Evvie is daughter to a single mom, looking after her younger sisters while her mom works. Evvie also has magical abilities getting stronger every day. The gift of magic is called “jubilation” in her family (I love that). It’s passed down through generations of Black women since slavery.
Evvie is sooooo strong. The writing in this book is equally strong and real. The Jim Crow South is not an easy place to be a Black woman. The author explores difficult, important topics, including racism and violence against women, and it was balanced with all the beautiful joy and love portrayed in this book.
Daughters of Jubilation was a deeply emotional read for me, and those are the books I love most. I’ll not forget this one any time soon, and it’s definitely a favorite of mine this year. Five stars.
I received a gifted copy. All opinions are my own.
Wow, this one hit much harder than expected emotionally. Definitely check content warnings if you need them, because it's an intense one but it's also very, very good. Daughters of Jubilation is set in the 1960's and follows a sixteen-year-old Black girl in the South with magical abilities, passed down through families for the survival of Black women. In some ways this is a coming of age story about first love, but it also verges into horror as Evvie encounters misogyny, racism, and a very disturbing man who is obsessed with her.
Evvie is struggling to cope with her growing abilities that can be as dangerous as they are powerful. She is also falling in love with her first boyfriend (Clay), exploring her sexuality, and facing the dangers of racism and white supremacy for herself and the people she loves. Her relationship with Clay is achingly beautiful and feels real. In general, this is the sort of book that just might rip your heart out as it explores the difficult realities of how slow change can be and the evil in the hearts of people. I don't want to say too much more about the plot but I really hope people will pick this book up! Just do be aware that this book gets quite dark, and I'm not sure the cover really gets that across. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Content warnings include rape, murder, racialized violence, racist slurs, misogyny, references to childhood sexual abuse, graphic violence.
There are some trigger warnings for this book including rape, racism, and violence.
I liked this book a lot. The story follows Evalene as she tries to master her "jubilation " or magical abilities. In the center of this is a crush named Clay, who turns out to be great romantic interest and a figure from her past who wishes to do her more harm than he'd already done. Evalene navigates her blooming relationship with Clay, her magic, and her past.
What I liked:
I loved the time period (1960's) as it adds to the stress of Evalene's life and almost feels like a trigger to her ancestor's magical abilities. The idea that black women passing down these abilities for protection, countering their time as slaves. In the era of Jim Crow, her family realizes they still need their powers as much as before.
The love interest Clay was super cute. There were times where I was iffy about him, wondering if he had ulterior motives for being around Evie, but that was quickly squashed. He was man goals. They were super cute together.
The sex talk was well done. Evvie's mom was great about reminding her daughter about using protection and did not shun her for having sex in the first place, although we know, as parents, we never want our kids to grow up and the idea of them embarking in sex worries us more than we realize.
The wise old grandmother and her bluntness stole the show. I loved her scenes, but I wished we had a bit more time with her as she had to make her points rather quickly in the book.
Evvie's voice is distinctly deep South Carolina and I loved it. So many times we read characters that are supposed to have a dialect of their native areas only to come off sounding flat. Evvie's was perfect. As a protagonist teetered the line of maturity in her narration, but what do you expect from a teenage girl living in the deep south in a time period like that? She has a ton of burdens, so let's not fault her for sounding childish at times.
What I did not like:
I can't really think of anything off the top of my head other than THAT ENDING THOUGH. WAAAAHHHHHHHH
I wasn't prepared on how much the book would effect me reading it as I forgot that YA now days can be just as hard hitting and intense as books caters to adult. A very good and well written story and I would definitely read more from this author.
This book was filled with an atmosphere that left me in tears. This book is one of a kind filled with many themes. The themes within this book that are relatable to me and can be relatable to others are love, family, the future, the past, family, sacrifice, tragedy, loss, racism, regret, and family curses. The main character is this book is named Evvie (Evalene) and she lives in Jim Crow South Carolina. She has powers called Jubiliation that is passed down to all the women in her family. When Evvie tries to control her powers she had no choice but to become an apprentice to her grandmother (Grammie Attie) that many considered crazy. But as she is trained to learn and harness her powers she is also falling for a man named Clay (Clayton). Though as time goes by she is stalked by a person of her past that her hurt her and she has not memory of him and what he did to her til later on in the book and his name is Virgil Hampton who is the ancestor of a Confederate general who also was the financial backer of the KKK. As I read this book Evvie began to learn things the hard way and for the first time in her life she knows the feeling of losing someone she loves and not even having powers can guarantee saving the people she loves in her life. All I can say is that this book was phenomenal and I think everyone should read this book. Overall the lesson that I learned from this book is that having powers does not make you invincible. Having powers does not mean nothing can harm you or your loved ones. Having powers does not mean sacrifices will not be made. Life is filled with sacrifices whether you have powers or not. Having powers is one thing, but having to live with it is another. At the end of the day we are all human and having powers can not define us, the future, and who will be in our lives.
I really should have read this book when it first came out. Truth be told I had been waiting for the audiobook but alas...none has been produced/published. Does it still need one? Yes, absolutely.
Short of it: More people need to read this book.
Evalene has come into her powers. She's jubing and it's out of control. This is the story of how Evalene learns about Jubilation all while trying to survive and navigate the Jim Crow south, her schooling, new love, work, friends and family.
This book had me anxious from page one. This is a YA fantasy but with some paranormal/horror aspects to it. I couldn't read it at night. I just couldn't. The magic system in this book was unique and made absolute sense. Honestly, I don't think I've ever read a magic system described in this way. There were aspects to the magic system that were brand new and then there were aspects that were familiar, such as root work. It's written in the dialect of the people whose lives we are living vicariously through and is laced with historical context which is essential to the plot.
This is a whole ride. You have to experience this book without spoilers and without intros. It will have you on your toes until the very end. It will absolutely break you in the last few chapters. It will absolutely stay with you for a while. Even now... I can't stop crying. All I can say is that so much has been taken and in the end all that is ever guaranteed is that you must keep surviving until you cannot.
Contents: Rape, Death, Violence, Domestic Violence, Incarceration, Suicide, KKK, N word
Daughters of Jubilation is a story of power and the ways it can be wielded for both good and evil. Having grown up in the Jim Crow era, Evvie knows what powerlessness feels like and she isn’t willing to just sit back and wallow in it. Luckily, she has magic on her side. But as Evvie’s powers grow stronger, she struggles to figure out boundaries: When is using her magic against someone justified, and just how far is too far? Suspense is built when Evvie realizes she’s being stalked by a mysterious man who she eventually realizes has ties to her past–a past she doesn’t want to remember. And another surprising character shows up in Evvie’s dreams and adds a uniquely unexpected element to the story that I won’t spoil. (Though, I will say it makes me wonder if there are more books planned in this world…) Daughters explores difficult topics, including sexual assault and extreme racism that turns brutal, so it can be a tough read in some parts, but at its heart it’s a story of strength and resilience. I highly recommend this powerful read!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
This one will make you cry! This powerful fantasy story is one for the ages! Black Girl Magic is strong in this one and I loved it! Be warned that this one does have a lot of triggers such as rape, slurs, and violence. I love stories with heritage and family and this one had both. This story full of dark history and love and family is one that I could not put down and I loved every page.
DAUGHTERS OF JUBILATION left me jubilant. I was captivated from the start by Evvie’s journey—at turns, I would marvel at a wondrous scene, feel amused, become devastated, and ultimately embrace the human spirit—in this original and intricate exploration of love, sex, race, and magic in America. If our common names cause you to raise an eyebrow, yes, she is my sister, but don’t take my word for it: the book has appeared on more than fifteen best-of-2020 lists so far, and the San Francisco CHRONICLE compares the work to Octavia Butler while imagining the writer’s literary influences at a dinner party: Here, Toni Morrison sits next to Carson McCullers. William Faulkner might be slinking in the doorway. They’re all riveted by “Daughters of Jubilation,” Corthron’s artful page-turner. A must-must-must-read.
Evalene Deschamps as a power called Jubilation, passed down through family generations from before slavery when women in her family needed power to survive. But Evalene is just a high school student living in Jim Crow and hoping to fall in love. But when someone from her past comes back to haunt and threaten her, she will need her family, her Jubilation, and her strength to survive.
"I believe I have the strength to take care of myself and the people I love. I will keep my eyes and my heart directed at them, so that if destiny tries to harm any of 'em, it will have to go through me."
I loved Evalene - she is a typical teenager, waffling between love and lust, having petty fights with friends, and generally having emotions all over the place. EXCEPT, she has this Jubilation power that is growing and she doesn't know how to handle it. I loved that the power is called Jubilation - so much Black people use joy and resilience and celebration to survive. The connection there was so beautiful. My favorite character was Grandma Atti tho - what a SPITFIRE. She is the epitome of Black grandmas and I loved her. I also loved the setting and how mysticism, power, and magic is set alongside Jim Crow, racism, and real life history of the fight for civil rights.
"We just keep fightin' the same battles in new eras with new faces each time. It's never ending"
I found this quote critical because it highlights that the fight for civil rights, the fight to be respected and not murdered as a Black person is literally never ending. The faces change but the cause doesn't. And we need to fight in order to survive - we need to use everything we've got, especially some Jubilation.
CW/TW: rape, abuse, assault, racism, racist language
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing and Hear Our Voices Book Tour for an advanced copy to review!
This book was nothing like what I expected, yet it immediately became the best book I read in 2022 so far. I literally had no idea going into it, it surprised me in a lot of ways and managed to destroy me by the end.
Daughters of Jubilation sets in Jim Crow South in 1962 where white supremacy rises. It tells a story of a 16 years old girl named Evvie who has an ability to do things with her mind. This book was just Evvie living the days of her life: playing with her friends, taking care of her sisters, finally having a romantic relationship with her long-time crush. But suddenly, someone from her past comes back and she has to face what lies in front of her, including the power of her own ability.
At first, this book felt like a contemporary book with a touch of magic. As I said, it was just Evvie living her life. But something was so gripping from the very beginning that I couldn't stop reading. I loved Evvie from the bottom of my heart. The way the author wrote her was amazingly realistic but not shallow. I really cared about her and I wanted to protect her at all costs. She deserved the world and I mean it.
What surprised me the most was the writing style. From what I read, this book used dialect in its writing, so you will find words like drivin' or sposeta. It did take time to get used to it, but I actually liked it. I think the writing was readable, so it won't take long to finish the paragraphs. Which is probably one of the main reasons why I finished this book faster than I thought I would.
Plot wise, this book shocked me a lot. I didn't know this was going to be set in the real world, so I was surprised when I found out about it. And it was also more of a slice of life story in the beginning. But then, when something started to happen, everything just went on quickly. This was not an action packed book and more of a quieter one. The action didn't take place until the last 30% or even less. But as a fan of character driven books, it didn't bother me at all. In fact, I enjoyed this book more than a lot of action packed books. I also didn't expect the conflict to go on THAT way. It started as a book about a girl and a boy falling in love and ended as a hella dark book. It really talked about white supremacy in 1962 and how it affected colored people. It was important to be brought up in books and I'm definitely happy that this book also handled that topic. The ending... even though I expected misery would happen, I didn't know it would be this way. I had suspicion though, so when it happened, I was shocked I couldn't even cry. I teared up at some moments after that, remembering a lot of happy things that might've happened if "it" didn't happen. On a positive note, the very last page shocked the hell out of me. Someone said they wanted a sequel to this book because of that and although I'm happy with the way it ended, I would still be delighted to read about what may happen next.
Overall, this was a successful book for me. I was smiling, giggling, tearing up, crying. This book made me feel a lot of emotions and I'm grateful for it. It was surprisingly amazing and enjoyable. I recommend this book for everyone, especially those who want a lighter fantasy read. But before starting this book, please be aware that it contains graphic violence and sexual assault. Not to mention there were some racial slurs thrown to colored people by whites. If you can handle that, I 100% recommend this. It just doesn't feel right that this book only has so little ratings in Goodreads when it deserves thousands.
I was looking forward to making my way through Daughters of Jubilation. The idea of incorporating the fantastical, otherworldly, and horror genres (the latter particularly fitting, given the subject matter) into accounts of racism, segregation, and Jim Crow no longer seem foreign and disconnected concepts to me after reading Lovecraft Country and, in fact, now couldn't make more sense (it often makes me wonder how I never made that correlation before). Nonetheless, Daughters of Jubilation didn't run as fluidly as I'd hoped or anticipated, often leading to what felt like literary dead ends and false doors of depth. **Any textual references made unfortunately will not include page numbers, since I read the novel in digital format.
Of what it got right, I appreciated Daughters of Jubilation's explanation of "jubilation" ("jube") being used as a means of survival and protection by Evvie's ancestors during their time of bondage (Ch.17: "Haunted"). The idea that circumstances so abhorrently inconceivable would curate such a gift in those forced to endure it was poignant to reflect on. To me, savagery (of slavery and racism, past and present) being met with savagery (an instinctual human response) was on full display when .
I do wish the narrative had spent more time on Evvie developing a true connection to her gift and the history of her lineage from which it was inherited, instead of just a cursory training on how to wield it. It seems there was a great deal of richness to be explored there, in terms of familial bonds and, perhaps, developing a better understanding of herself through their stories. Nonetheless I did like the descriptions given of the different "levels" of Evvie's gift as a vivid spectrum of colors, while she is essentially apprenticing with her grandmother Atti: "red-orange" (Chapter 9: Training), "greenish-yellow" (Chapter 17: Haunted), "purple and silver" (Chapter 20: Destiny).
I applaud the candor with which racism and segregation is spoken of by the characters, especially given that they are actively living it: with mention made of atrocities like Emmett Till's murder (Chapter 9: Training), the brazen entitlement of whites ("Come on." He grabs my hand, and we walk, fast. Before I can question our pace, Clay tosses somethin’ in a garbage can. “What was that?” He shakes his head. “Betsy’s phone number.” So that’s what the handshake was about. Christ Jesus, white girls are bold. Cuz they never have no consequences. It’s infuriating." (Chapter 12: Bold), and the pervasiveness of segregation ("Over the years, Brickney’s made it quite clear that he’s only interested in white customers. The few times Negroes tried to patronize the place, he wouldn’t let ’em touch any merchandise and tripled—sometimes quadrupled—his prices on the spot if they showed any serious interest in makin’ a purchase. Anything to get rid of ’em. I’m sorry, but my nigger money works exactly the same as their white-people money, because guess what: it’s the SAME money. Now, if you run a business, the object is to make money, ain’t it? Jesus. I think years a hatin’ colored people so hard must cause some kinda brain damage." (Chapter 12: Bold); Chapter 10: Girlfriend). The absence of sugarcoating or glossing over of these horrors in the text was valuable.
As a primary focal point of the novel, Evvie and 's relationship surprisingly felt authentic and not overly saccharine. Their first date, with him essentially gifting her the forgotten library (Chapter 6: Stars) is the epitome of romance, replete with them reading aloud to each other on a subsequent date (Chapter 7: Chivalry). I also thought it important that Corthron chose to speak of them being sexually active in such a straightforward way, so as not to feed into sanctified tropes of virginity and purity. And Evvie being presented as a nascent astronomer (Chapter 6: Stars) was a well-played addition to the narrative, as it gave her an identity outside of her relationship and her supernatural gift. It's also worth mentioning that the cover of the hardcover edition of the novel is strikingly beautiful.
Corthron's intermittent attempts to give Evvie and other characters a southern drawl of sorts was distracting and unnecessary. Dialogue-wise, I'm no prude but there was an odd amount of cursing throughout the text, which was a bit off-putting with the frequency with which it was incorporated. I'm not sure there's a way to articulate this in a way that makes sense to others but upon reflecting on it, in some odd way I realized I equate cursing with contemporary times and not the past. Media from the '60s and works I've encountered that are meant to snapshot the era, present it as a time in which the people most often speaking with a lack of poise and composure were bigots spewing racial epithets. Obviously, that's not to say that others that cursed like sailors didn't exist but it's just not something I'd put much thought into (especially in a literary context). Again, maybe not something others gave any thought to but I interestingly only noticed this about my own perception upon encountering this in Daughters of Jubilation.
Unfortunately, there were a number of lost opportunities to delve deeper into familial history and relationships: Evvie's parents' relationship (Chapter 18: Love); Evvie's great-grandmother's and her relationship with her Grandma Atti (Chapter 17: Haunted); the events surrounding Evvie's grandfather's and his relationship with her Grandma Atti (Chapter 20: Destiny). In that same vein, it became confusing that Evvie's "haints" (essentially, her female ancestors from whom she inherited her gift) seem to taunt and torment her (particularly by way of her dreams, Chapter 11: Haints) as opposed to guiding and nurturing her. Her futuristic dreams/visions featuring (who is later revealed to be) and modern-day billboards were bizarre and felt somewhat out of place, especially since these encounters were never explained even after the fact: is her future self actually close with her ? Do they share a unique bond?
Given how the book ends, mention of Evvie and her future not getting along (as relayed to her by , doesn't make sense given her closeness with her own , and the history of broken female relationships she's both learned of and witnessed within her own family. In fact, to further underscore how nonsensical this is given the circumstances, Evvie's .
But perhaps my biggest qualm with Daughters of Jubilation was that it continually felt as though something was being left out as far as Virgil Hampton was concerned. Not that I wanted details of his or that I felt he could be (or that I wanted him to) humanized, but no backstory was offered aside from cursory mention of him "taking something" from as a child and Evvie's mother at one time being employed as his family's maid (Chapter 14: Unspeakable, Chapter 17: Haunted). Details are scant, with not even a flashback to bridge the gap of how he entered The Deschamps' lives (which I feel could have provided more context). Also, did he have actual supernatural abilities too? Or was his ability to debilitate Evvie just rooted in the fact that he and his innate inner darkness?
Lastly, the text's "twists" felt overly predictable - I saw them coming from a mile away based on the telltale signs Corthron chose to insert in the narrative: the heavy insinuations (particularly marked by her sadness once Evvie gets involved with , and then the not fully disclosed contents of her diary, as an indication of 's crush on Evvie; Clay becoming of both Evvie's battle with Virgil Hampton and of racism itself; the rabbit apparition and it tapping its paw on Evvie's to indicate ; the implication that Evvie eventually gets involved with .
In spite of its missteps, Daughters of Jubilation is worth reading and offers an honest glimpse of Jim Crow America through the eyes of a Black teen withstanding its barbarity and grappling with her own newfound identity.
Noteworthy lines and passages:
"The dead rarely hurt you. The living do it every day." (Ch.3: Juneteenth)
"It is a curse. A beautiful face and a beautiful body can bring no good fortune to a colored woman. Men always see the beautiful things. And they think they got a right to have ’em and do what they want with ’em regardless of how the beautiful thing feels. There’s a lotta ugly men out there, and sometimes their ugliness is hidden by a handsome face, but they ugly deep inside and they see that beauty and they want to steal it for themselves." (Chapter 4: Beautiful)
"That’s when I take in our surroundings. Clay has lit over a dozen old candles, and they’re spread all around… books. Books everywhere. The ghostly light illuminates big cardboard displays with paint painted animals and pictures of children. A border at the top of one wall displays the cursive alphabet. “Clay? What is this?” “You never been here?” he asks. I shake my head. He claps his hands one time and does a little dance, seamlessly transforming into a far younger version of himself. “I was hopin’ you hadn’t. Come here,” he says, pulling me over to one section. “This used to be the colored children’s library.” (Chapter 6: Stars)
"This is a rare atmospheric phenomenon that has to be seen to be believed. Because I know what magic looks like, I know this is pretty damn close, but it’s not magic. It’s the elegance of the universe." (Chapter 13: Cyclone)
“Why do. Some folks. Sing. Like. Angels? Why do. Some folks. Put pencil. To paper. And draw. Masterpieces?” [...] “Why do. Some folks. Find cures. For. Diseases? Everybody. Has some. Kind. Of magic. Ain’t. Just. Us.” (Chapter 16: Two-Headed)
"It’s a jewelry box...At the back, just in front of the mirrors and atop what must be the music box, a ballerina spins to the music...And her skin. Looks like mine. She’s my shade of brown. She could be a miniature version of me...I feel a lump in my throat. I’ve never seen anything like this. I never thought anybody would make something like this. When you see a reflection of yourself from out in the world and it’s not meant to hurt or shame you? When it’s there to show you that you’re beautiful and loved? It just fills you up with warmth and something like grace." (Chapter 21: Acquainted)
"I’ve lived here my whole goddamn life, and I ain’t welcome here. Neither was Clay.” He says that last part softly. “How can someplace be your home if you can’t be safe there? Why do we put up with it? Just cuz it’s where we’re born? That ain’t a good enough reason. Not for what they do to us.” (Chapter 28: Life)
"I wipe the tears away from my cheeks. I’m tired a cryin’, but seems like cryin’ ain’t tired a me." (Chapter 29: Gifts)
[Content notes: This book includes sexual assault, rape, racial slurs, strangulation, drowning, and lynching.]
DAUGHTERS OF JUBILATION is a very good book. It is also a difficult one to read. Author Kara Lee Corthron doesn’t try to hide the horrors of Jim Crow South Carolina and ensures that the reader understands the ties between slavery, Jim Crow, and the present day in multiple ways. There’s Jubilation, of course, the magical thread that connects mothers and daughters and future generations, but there are also non-magical things, like naming monuments/geographic features/etc. after Confederate “heroes” or Evvie briefly meeting a woman who had born into slavery. The past isn’t over—it continues to affect Evvie’s present and the readers’ present. That frankness about history permeates DAUGHTERS OF JUBILATION in other ways, from honest talks about sex to trying to survive unjust systems and the horrible people that take advantage of them.
Evvie is a delightful protagonist, and I truly enjoyed her voice and her character arc. Some of the best scenes in the book were her trying to master control of Jubilation with her grandmother. Evvie’s struggles, triumphs, and relationships were always compelling. I was very fond of her relationship with Clay, especially since he and Evvie took the time to have important conversations when they were needed. That’s one of the many strengths in this book—characters having difficult conversations with each other, especially when they’re not on the same page.
DAUGHTERS OF JUBILATION is a suspenseful read. Corthron does a fantastic job of balancing Evvie’s powers against the threats in her life, so much show that every close call, every terrible encounter is harrowing and unnerving. As another character tells Evvie in the book, Jubilation is a survival tool. And it is one Evvie definitely needs in a society that’s actively hostile to her.
Recommendation: Get it soon. DAUGHTERS OF JUBILATION is a fascinating mix of the historical and the magical, and it doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. Evvie’s journey to learn more about Jubilation and to use it to survive the danger that reappeared in her life makes for a compelling, and sometimes upsetting, read. If you can handle the content notes above and you like historical fantasy, you should add this book to your TBR list.
This book has been on my TBR list since the day it came out, and I'm so glad I finally picked it up. I didn't really have a clear idea of what this book was about going into it, so pretty much everything about it was unexpected. One of the things I absolutely did not expect was the creepiness factor, especially early on when Evvie doesn't understand what is going on with the stranger she keeps seeing. As a 100% wuss with a high level of stranger danger, that freaked me out a bit.
I loved Evvie as a main character, and I adored her grandmother, too. They both cracked me up with their sassiness. I also loved Evvie's relationship with Ann Marie and how supportive she was of her.
The magic in this book was really unique and interesting. The whole concept of jubilation and it's evolution was both fascinating and heartbreaking. I would've loved to have learned even more about it.
I am not normally a book crier but Daughters of Jubilation got me quite a few times. Evvie was an incredibly compelling main character. I really liked that she wasn't perfect -- she could be impatient and had a temper -- but also was constantly trying to best support the people that she cared about. The addition of magic to the story was a powerful tool to look at white privilege and the constant threat of racial violence that Black people in America have been facing since the country's founding. Evvie's jubilation forces her to make tough decisions about how she perceives power and justice, which certainly sparked a lot of personal introspection around those topics for me.
This book is really beautiful, and I’m not sure if there are other young adult books that take place in the Jim Crow-era south, but this felt unique to me. Corthron had my emotions all over the place. I don’t quite like the very end or a certain spoiler-y plot point that was set up in an odd scene earlier on, but this was very close to 5 stars.
Wow, this book is amazing! I cried so much... it’s truly about black girl magic, literally. In the beginning I had trouble as this book uses a Southern 1960s accent (I think lol), and not being a native speaker sometimes I didn’t get half of the sentences and sometimes I had no idea what the dialogue was about. But it is really authentic and I think that’s very important! It was dark and mature, and I loved the main character, how she is so spoken out about things, even though she can be a bit impatient and rash lol! Her boyfriend is a cinnamon roll, and I loved him for asking consent and treating her equally, but not a perfect relationship thank goodness. This is one of the best romance subplots I read in a long time. However, it is not about romance, it’s about magic and racism and womens rights and heavy topics like rape/violence. The magic system is amazing and felt very natural. Grandma is amazing. I really loved it even though my heart broke.
4.5/5 Just because the climax of the plot was a little flat. Also, I wanted a little more from the villian. I wanted a different or maybe more complex motivation. When he was introduced, he seemed like he held an extraordinary amount of power and felt other-worldly. In the end though, he was a villian of his time.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.