Virtual Book Launch: Child Bride by Jennifer Smith Turner
Dates: July 12, 2020
Location: online via Zoom
Fee: FREE, registration details to come
To purchase the book: Bunch of Grapes
Join us for the virtual book launch of Jennifer Smith Turner's novel Child Bride on Sunday, July 12th at 4pm. We will be celebrating the debut online beginning with an interview by Featherstone's Executive Director Ann Smith and the author. Jennifer will follow by reading an excerpt from Child Bride, and the event will conclude with a Q&A discussion.
(Signed books by the author are available for purchase at the Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven and online. (*GIVEAWAY* share a photo of yourself with the book and you will be entered to win a signed advance reader copy (ARC) of the novel! Share via email or tag us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter).
In the segregated South of the mid-1900s, fourteen-year-old Nell bears witness to a world that embraces the oppression of women.
From Book Life by Publishers Weekly: “This enticing debut novel from poet Turner chronicles a young black woman’s coming of age amid the turbulent racism of Louisiana and Boston just prior to the civil rights era. Nell Jones, born in 1941, grew up on a farm in Louisiana, basking in the support of her family and enjoying the comfort of books. At 16, she agrees to marry Henry Bight, a man 10 years her senior, and they move to Boston after being wed. Nell’s attraction to Henry wanes as he exerts total control over her life, barely letting her leave their apartment. After giving birth to two children, Nell demands that Henry allow her to attend church. There she meets Charles Johnson, a college-educated man who shares her love of books and learning. When their brief affair results in a child, Nell faces Henry’s wrath. But Turner eschews the traditional “fallen woman” plot, and Nell finds she has more resources and support than she expects.
The parts of the novel set in segregated Louisiana illuminate the socioeconomic and educational discrimination experienced by African-Americans. Turner alludes to the omnipresent undercurrent of fear, referencing the brutal hanging of Emmett Till and Nell’s startled awareness of overt discrimination when she visits her family after living in Boston.
Turner’s character work is excellent, establishing Nell, Henry, and Charles as real people, complete with imperfections. Nell in particular is a complex young woman, whose desire for love, family, and learning make her easy to connect with. Turner’s secondary characters are equally fleshed out and complex: Phyllis Leonard, a minister’s wife, is generous and but strict in her morals, accepting Nell into the church fold but masterminding Henry’s plan to evict Nell from their home after her infidelity. Turner has crafted an accessible and absorbing historical drama about one woman’s path to creating the life and home she wants…”
"Jennifer Smith Turner's Child Bride offers a rich and immersive evocation of life for a young black American woman in the mid-twentieth century. Her portrayals of both rural, segregated Louisiana and Boston, Massachusetts, are vivid, powerful, and striking in their historical accuracy. But it is protagonist Nell's journey as a woman seeking independence that makes this book stand out: her evolution from a child bride into a forceful and self-assured adult testifies to the incalculable value of a warm heart and an inquiring mind." -Ursula DeYoung, Editor, Embark Literary Journal
"Turner’s warm and personal narrative brings to life the vigor and interdependence of black communities in both the South and the North of the mid-20th century…uplifting and dynamic…A captivating story of a strong African American woman who pursues her dreams." -Kirkus Reviews
"This historical drama about surviving racism and abuse will move any reader interested in African-American lives in the early 20th century." -Booklife Review
Child Bride was named best fiction e-book for 2020 by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and BiblioBoard. The award honors the best self-published ebooks in fiction and poetry by an African American author in the U.S.
About the Author:
Jennifer Smith Turner is a New England–born writer. She is the author of two poetry books, Lost and Found: Rhyming Verse Honoring African American Heroes and Perennial Secrets: Poetry & Prose.
Her work has been included in Vineyard Poets, and anthology of poems by Martha’s Vineyard writers, and in numerous literary publications. Her poems frequently appear in the Vineyard Gazette. She was featured on NPR's Faith Middleton Show and Connecticut Public Television’s poetry evening. She has been a featured speaker at Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania Kelly Writer’s House. She has also worked extensively in the public and private K-12 schools in Connecticut and Massachusetts, bringing poetry to students and educators.
Turner formally served as interim president/CEO of Newman‘s Own Foundation, where she is a board member. She is the retired CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut. During her professional career, she served as an appointed government official with the state of Connecticut and the city of Hartford, as a corporate and nonprofit executive, and as a member of many academic and nonprofit boards of directors.
She holds a BA from Union College and a Masters Degree from Fairfield University. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Hartford.
Turner resides on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband Eric.
Child Bride highlighted in the current Vineyard Style magazine.