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Staff Reviews

Sometimes the setting in a novel is just so vivid that I can feel myself there.  Sometimes characters are so well drawn that I feel as if they could be real people I just haven’t met.  And rarely, a debut novelist gives me both of those, tied up in a story I loved reading, and then…then it becomes a staff pick.  

Ada and Matilda’s entwined lives on the Trace – the Natchez Trace back in the 1920s - make for an unlikely tale in that Ada is the daughter of an awful, racist, dirt-poor man living on the edge of a swamp.  Matilda’s father is a black sharecropper hoping to work his way into a better situation for his family.  When life throws the girls together and binds them with secrets which only one of them really understands, both of their lives are changed irrevocably, for better and for worse.

I loved that the prologue set the stage for the action to come.  And I equally loved that the ending of this novel didn’t come back around and wrap everything up with a nice, neat bow.  I was impressed with Mustian’s writing and enthralled with her story.  This novel should be on your to-be-read pile!


— Jill


Remarkable debut.... a] nearly flawless tale of loss, perseverance and redemption.--Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

Set in 1920s Mississippi, this debut Southern novel weaves a beautiful and harrowing story of two teenage girls cast in an unlikely partnership through murder--perfect for readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and If the Creek Don't Rise.

Ada promised herself she would never go back to the Trace, to her hard life on the swamp and her harsh father. But now, after running away to Baton Rouge and briefly knowing a different kind of life, she finds herself with nowhere to go but back home. And she knows there will be a price to pay with her father.

Matilda, daughter of a sharecropper, is from the other side of the Trace. Doing what she can to protect her family from the whims and demands of some particularly callous locals is an ongoing struggle. She forms a plan to go north, to pack up the secrets she's holding about her life in the South and hang them on the line for all to see in Ohio.

As the two girls are drawn deeper into a dangerous world of bootleggers and moral corruption, they must come to terms with the complexities of their tenuous bond and a hidden past that links them in ways that could cost them their lives.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781728217710
ISBN-10: 1728217717
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: April 6th, 2021
Pages: 384
Language: English