Meet four American narrators living through the years 1836 to 1941. Glow recounts the tale of the descendants of the Bounds family, who have intermarried and carry a mix of Scotch-Irish, African-American, and native Indian heritage.The story actually begins in 1941 in Washington, D.C., a dangerous time when Ella McGee is forced to escape Washington, D.C. because of the trouble her mother, Mia (Amelia), has made as an NAACP pamphleteer.
Mia sends Ella to escape those who have destroyed their home. Ella is then brutally beaten by drifters, and this spunky girl awakens in the home of Willie May Cotton, a hoodoo woman and former slave, and her partner, Mary Mary Freeborn. The narration then shifts to the character Riddle Young, who initially is living in the Appalachian mountains of Georgia and speaks like characters from the Bible and Shakespeare. The reader learns of the way the Indians were cheated out of their lands, how the African-Americans were really slaves subject to the most brutal punishments for the slightest lapse, not to mention the horrific lashings if caught trying to escape.
The book flows along with toughness and tenderness, people in love with the land and willing to suffer and sacrifice personal desires to survive. They find their joy in that land, in the cultural crafts they fashion with both words and hands. Mothers and daughters shape their own history while other distant politicians make enemies and warfare, consciously and unconsciously. This is an unusual book that seems to go back and forth in time, sometimes in a rather disjointed fashion, but the overlying tapestry is a harsh, beautiful, and realistic portrayal of a significant portion of American history. Remarkable!