Walking in Tall Weeds Excerpt
“Because Julia persists in tellin’ me how I should think and feel. I can’t be comfortable…around my own kitchen table, no less.” Mama’s soft voice bounced off the glass.
“Not that you’re ever comfortable in the kitchen,” Dad murmured, his voice barely discernible.
McKinley shifted his position on the soft leather seat as if parrying his father’s low blow. When he peeked at his mother’s reflection, he didn’t linger long on her high cheekbones, narrow nose, or skin the color of chai tea with heavy cream. What claimed his attention was her cloaked expression. It peered inward rather than at the people they were leaving behind. Though her eyes tended to duck and hide when she was feeling some kind of way, they declared her emotions the way a herald announced the arrival of the king. Right now, they blared to those who would listen, “When those people are around, my own skin doesn’t fit me.”
Yet McKinley knew uttering those words didn’t fit his mother either. And his father had stopped up his ears long ago.
He pressed his forehead to the cool glass and imagined scribbling HELP ME with his index finger. Wherever the folks out there were headed had to be better than serving time in the armed camp the Baldwins’ house became when his great-aunt rolled into town, his great-uncle in tow. Even now, he could hear the click of pistols loading.
Walking in Tall Weeds
By Robin W. Pearson
She dragged herself from her stupor to find both Evelyn and Theodore staring at her. Maxine’s smile wavered but never quite righted itself on her face, so she stopped trying and shrugged. “Oops, you caught me. I’ve got a lot on my mind these days. What did I miss?”
“Your fiancé asked how long we’ve known each other, and I told him we were raised eating grits and bacon together.”
“Then you should be able to tell me why Maxine uses Mama Ruby instead of calling her Grandma or Grandmother. Is that a North Carolina thing?” When silence rolled in like a fog after his question, Teddy turned to Maxine.
Maxine imagined herself straining to pick up a set of barbells. She kept sliding off weights until finally, she stripped the truth to its bare bones. “My mother left me with my grandparents for a couple years after my daddy died. During that time I started calling my grandmother ‘Mama Ruby’ because she became a mother to me. That’s when I met Evelyn.” This time she mustered a smile to lighten the mood. “Evelyn’s Granny B introduced me to tender greens, and my life was forever changed.”
Evelyn’s eyes twinkled. “Forever changed? Really? So why was I not good enough to meet this guy?”
If anyone’s not good enough . . . “Guilty again. It all happened so fast, Ev.”
“I see that.” Evelyn tapped Maxine’s shoulder in what seemed a gentle rebuke. “Theodore, you do know you’ve got a passionflower on your hands.”
“Maxine? My Maxine? No-o-o, she’s a peach blossom.”
More like a wild Irish rose, Maxine thought.
‘Til I Want No More
By Robin W. Pearson
Christy Award Winner, First Novel
“Granny B had had it hard, and there was no way her granddaughter could ever separate her from an ounce of her pain and suffering, not that anyone could. Evelyn believed that every morning, before Granny B got dressed, she put on this suit of armor—not her full armor of God because that never came off. Her past. And she buttoned it up tight. It protected her from all kinds of nasty things, such as healing, redemption, or a cool balm for those festering sores of resentment and sadness. And it also prevented her from taking much pleasure from the faith she set such store by.
Besides Henton’s check, Lis and Evelyn were the only parts of the family who regularly stopped by. Even Kevin kept his distance, despite Beatrice’s view that Evelyn was glued to her husband’s hip. Under the guise of “settin’ things right,” she stopped by just to spend time with the crusty piece of bread that was her grandmother. Sometimes during her visits Granny B related some memory of the past, providing small details about this event or that. Evelyn often pictured all those people from her grandmother’s past, banging their tiny fists on the inside of her lips, begging for air, but not even Little Ed could pry them open with his strong fingers. Her Granny B wouldn’t set them free until she wanted to, and then only for a short spell.”
A Long Time Comin’
By Robin W. Pearson
“[In Walking in Tall Weeds] Pearson skillfully captures the complexity of family dynamics and the ways racism’s scars persist across generations.”
“Robin W. Pearson takes a brave and deep journey through the tall weeds of a family’s old pain, nagging fears, and challenging choices—painting a portrait of the path any willing family can take to finally walk into the promise of courageous, new life.”
Patricia Raybon, award-winning author of All That Is Secret
“When I read Robin W. Pearson’s latest, I saw my own heart….And in the tapestry she weaves with words, I find what I hold on to, what I need to set free, and the striving in between.”
Chris Fabry, bestselling author of A Piece of the Moon
“Robin W. Pearson has a gift for capturing the complexity and nuances of family relationships. She brings a remarkable tenderness and compassion to the struggle we all face to know and be known in a family.”
Sarah Loudin Thomas, award-winning author of The Right Kind of Fool
“Pearson invites us—a large family from different backgrounds, skin tones, experiences—to tune our ears to the song of unity and forgiveness that is only possible through the power of Christ. [Her] voice is strong and powerful. Listen up! You don’t want to miss a note!”
Susie Finkbeiner, award-winning author of The Nature of Small Birds and Stories that Bind Us
“…Pearson weaves together a rich tapestry of Southern charm while exposing issues often hidden behind polite dialect. Where families will finally see the importance of looking at their past through a lens of awareness in order to do better, instead of allowing the past to rob them of the joy of the here and now.”
T.I. Lowe, bestselling author of Under the Magnolias
“Pearson’s excellent characters and plotting capture the complexity and beauty of family, the difficulty of rectifying mistakes, and the healing that comes from honesty. Pearson rises to another level with this excellent story.”
Publishers Weekly, ‘Til I Want No More
“’Til I Want No More feels like an extended afternoon at a family reunion barbecue, complete with mouthwatering food, spilled family secrets, and voices of faith that never lose hope. This brilliantly written story reminds us that God is bigger than the struggles that all families face, yet as a woman of color, I love that Robin’s courageous characters look and sound like me.”
Barb Roose, speaker and author of Surrendered: Letting Go and Living like Jesus and Joshua: Winning the Worry Battle
Robin W Pearson has done it again…Maxine’s journey of love, longing, and finding her identity and worth is relatable to so many women, all of whom will be able to resonate with the many emotions of this bride-to-be as she seeks to find the joy and sense of belonging she’s been missing.”
Angelia White Stone, CEO and editor of Hope for Women magazine
“Robin W. Pearson writes strong characters who wrap their arms around you and pull you into the family circle, a hubbub of loyalty, secrets, faith, and yes, forgiveness. Nobody’s perfect—but maybe that’s the best theme woven through this book.”
Beth K. Vogt, award-winning author of the Thatcher Sisters series
“…Once again [Robin W. Pearson’s] soulful Southern voice brings heart-tugging family relationships into the spotlight with realism and meaningful emotions.”
Carrie Turansky, award-winning author of No Ocean Too Wide and No Journey Too Far
“Robin W. Pearson has given us another story that sinks deep into the heart of a family. Her Southern touch adds to the charm and authenticity of her characters, while causing the reader to root for their full restoration.”
Christina Suzann Nelson, award-winning author of More Than We Remember
“…Feels like home. You’ll fall in love with Evelyn and Granny B and a cast of memorable characters so rich you won’t want the story to end. We can only hope we’ll be reading more from Robin W. Pearson!”
Chris Fabry, bestselling author of Under a Cloudless Sky and The Promise of Jesse Woods
“Robin W. Pearson delivers a fresh new voice for Southern fiction, treating readers to an inspiring journey through the complex matters of the heart.”
Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
“From the first page, Pearson invites readers into the slow unraveling of truth in her characters’ lives as the past and present collide. She writes with both realism and empathy—a powerful combination.”
Beth K. Vogt, Christy Award-winning author
“Starred review. Pearson’s excellent debut explores forgiveness and the burden of secrets. Helping Granny B repair her relationships and come to terms with the past gives Evelyn the strength to work on her own family. Pearson’s saga is enjoyable and uncomfortable, but also funny and persistent in the way that only family can be.”
“Pearson delivers a poignant debut that explores the faith of one African American family. Though it is perhaps overlong, the writing is strong, and the story is engaging, and readers will be pleased to discover a new voice in southern inspirational fiction. Libraries with Christian-fiction collections will want to add this novel to their shelves.”
“A contemporary fiction masterpiece with well developed, realistic characters, and authentic dialog. . . . Do not miss this one.”
Christian Fiction Advisor