Home » Book Biz » BOOK BIZ — Read this Mississippi native’s impressive debut novel
» Three Rivers By Tiffany Quay Tyson Published by Thomas Dunne Books $25.99 hardback

BOOK BIZ — Read this Mississippi native’s impressive debut novel

Jackson, Mississippi native Tiffany Quay Tyson’s evocative debut novel, Three Rivers, explores the meaning and the pull of family, place, and expectations. Tyson creates three parallel but ultimately interconnected stories filled with characters that readers will ultimately both relate to and root for.

The book opens with Melody Mahaffey receiving a letter from her mother, calling her home to the family farm in the Mississippi Delta, which sits where the Yazoo, Yalobusha, and Tallahatchie rivers meet. Melody’s father is ill and on his deathbed, her mother can’t handle it and has left, and Tiffany’s younger brother, though technically grown, is incapable of doing much on his own.

Melody, gifted with a beautiful singing voice, has been touring for a few years with a Christian band she’s come to despise, so she welcomes the intervention. She sets forth toward home, unsure exactly what awaits her there. What she finds is ruin as far as the eye can see; her father’s condition is worse than she’d even imagined and the once-stately house she grew up in is falling to pieces. Her brother Bobby is there, too, but following an accident during his baptism when he was just a boy, his mind was never quite right and he remains permanently stunted.

In addition to Melody’s plight, we learn about the struggles of Obi and his small son Liam. Obi and Liam have been living on the land, camping by rivers and in woods. But recently there was an unfortunate violent incident between Obi and another man, and Obi and Liam are now forced to lay low while things settle down. Obi is a good, caring father, worried about his son and worried about what his own actions may ultimately mean for them.

Rounding out the three stories, we find Melody’s mother, Geneva, on the run from troubles of her own and from realities (both past and present) she can’t face. Geneva has traveled to consult with Pisa, a medicine woman and seer of sorts, who doles out prophecies and potions in equal measure. We’re never quite sure if Pisa’s power is real or imagined, but she has a loyal follower in Geneva.

The backdrop for these three storylines is the fertile land of the Delta, the history contained there, and a coming flood that builds throughout the book until the water covers everything. Just as the rivers converge, so, too, do the stories here in surprising ways.

Three Rivers feels like a modern Southern gothic tale, with big themes and memorable characters. Compelling and entertaining, it’s worth your time.

— LouAnn Lofton, mbj@msbusiness.com

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