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This Side of Providence (Paperback)
On Our Shelves Now
"It is a book of such power that it is as if a completely new layer of the American experience has been exposed to our view...not one line is wasted and every single word rings true."
-- Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple Arcelia Perez fled Puerto Rico to escape a failed marriage and a history of abuse, but instead of finding her piece of the American dream, she ends up on the wrong side of Providence. With three young children, Arcelia follows a rocky path that ultimately leads to prison and an agonizing drug withdrawal. But her real challenge comes when she's released and must figure out how to stay clean and reunite the family that has unraveled in her absence. Through rotating narrators, we hear from the characters whose lives and futures are inextricably linked with Arcelia's own uncertain fate: her charming, street-savvy son, Cristo, and brilliant daughter Luz; their idealistic teacher, Miss Valentin, who battles her own demons; and the enigmatic Snowman, her landlord and confidante. This powerful story of hope and redemption reveals the un- acknowledged side of one of our oldest American cities, where even the bleakest of realities can't destroy the bonds between parent and child. Rich in humanity, This Side of Providence is a novel of exceptional force and originality.
About the Author
Rachel M. Harper was born in Boston and raised in Providence, RI and rural Minnesota. A graduate of Brown University, she went on to earn her Master's degree from USC. Her poems and short fiction have been published in The Carolina Review, Chicago Review, African American Review, Prairie Schooner, and the anthology Mending the World: Stories of Family by Contemporary Black Writers. Harper's first novel, Brass Ankle Blues, was a Borders Original Voices Award finalist and selected as a Target Breakout Book She has received fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and won the 2002 Fellowship in Fiction from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. Harper currently teaches fiction at Spalding University's brief-residency MFA in Writing Program.