News & Politics

Sap Rising

Stories offer “startling truths about love and friendship, youth and adulthood.”

 In 12 linked stories, Lincoln delves into the hearts and minds of African-Americans in the rural South to reveal startling truths about love and friendship, youth and adulthood.

 The stories, set in the fictional town of Grandville, tell one remarkable tale full of emotion—from the curiosity of a knowledge-hungry child to the sorrow of a woman with an untamed heart. The characters share fears about change, about pursuing their dreams of escaping their hometown’s confines.

 In “Bug Juice,” a boy is enthralled by magical tales of Africa told by his uncle’s girlfriend, a beautiful stranger who disappears from his life as quickly as she enters it. In “At the Water’s End,” Scoogie is a poet on the brink of manhood. His father tries to silence the writer in him but manages only to kindle Scoogie’s passion for words.

 Ebbie, who appears in several of the stories, can’t keep her feet planted long enough to raise Pontella, her daughter. Pontella’s childlike imagination cloaks her in invisibility to help her cope with her mother’s absence. Years later, the birth of Pontella’s child gives her life meaning, becoming the “hook” that anchors her restless heart: “I also found out what she and my mother would never come to know: sometimes a hook is one thing, the only thing, that can keep you from becoming invisible.”

 The author—who won Washington College’s Sophie Kerr Prize, the country’s largest undergraduate writing award—developed her storytelling talent at her grandmother’s knee. Lincoln’s personal hardships—including battles with drugs and alcohol and spousal abuse—and her triumph over them infuse the pages of Sap Rising to create a moving collection well worth reading.

Christine Lincoln