The Revisioners

The Revisioners

In 1925, Josephine is the proud owner of a thriving farm. As a child, she channeled otherworldly power to free herself from slavery. Now, her new neighbor, a white woman named Charlotte, seeks her company, and an uneasy friendship grows between them. But Charlotte has also sought solace in the Ku Klux Klan, a relationship that jeopardizes Josephine's family.Nearly one...

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Title:The Revisioners
Author:Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
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The Revisioners Reviews

  • Rachel Watkins

    Margaret Sexton Wilkerson’s THE REVISIONERS is a tribute, a prayer, a triumphant cry of gratitude to those who came before us. The intergenerational memories and desire for freedom and survival push Ava forward when things get hard. Moving into her grandmother’s house with her son seems to be a temporary fix, but she has no idea the legacy she has inherited. THE REVISIONERS honors with reverence the histories of those who had no voice.

  • Jessie

    The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton was incredible. This multigenerational novels follows two mothers (one in two different periods of her life, in childhood and old age, in bondage and free, which, just, wow) whose power, even their inherited ancestral magic, is sucked dry by the ravening maw of racism, both the structural kind, but also the deeply deeply personal variety. This book examines childhood and motherhood in the impossible world of America that punishes Black people for

    The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton was incredible. This multigenerational novels follows two mothers (one in two different periods of her life, in childhood and old age, in bondage and free, which, just, wow) whose power, even their inherited ancestral magic, is sucked dry by the ravening maw of racism, both the structural kind, but also the deeply deeply personal variety. This book examines childhood and motherhood in the impossible world of America that punishes Black people for existing and working for better for theirs. This book looks at how dangerous white privilege is, and how quickly it can tip into expressions of white power and devastating entitlement. This book names all of the ways that racism marks our bodies and subdues our spirit. And this book holds a very honest mirror up to the lurking danger of white supremacy that is often just below the surface of neighbourliness, friendliness, good intentions, and even love. This one was a bit spooky, a lot scary, and entirely transporting. Read this. Read Wilkerson Sexton’s first novel, A Kind of Freedom, too. Preorder it. Spread the word. Thank you counterpoint press for this advance reader copy of The Revisioners.

  • Sarah

    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review; opinions are my own.

    This book, simply put, is an example of extremely good storytelling. It reads like a suspense novel, a family epic, and historical fiction at once, and is one of the most well-paced novels I've ever read.

    The Revisioners’ protagonists are mainly women, but a vital pillar of this story is that of women raising sons, specifically Black women raising Black boys in America, which is a very dangerous place. The

    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review; opinions are my own.

    This book, simply put, is an example of extremely good storytelling. It reads like a suspense novel, a family epic, and historical fiction at once, and is one of the most well-paced novels I've ever read.

    The Revisioners’ protagonists are mainly women, but a vital pillar of this story is that of women raising sons, specifically Black women raising Black boys in America, which is a very dangerous place. The parallels drawn between Josephine’s childhood and King’s childhood, for example, are really well done because they point out how the targeting of Black boys and men has changed only enough to remain the same. Without giving too much away, some very horrific things do happen to some of these sons. But their characters are fully human, fully nuanced and complex, and it’s crucial that America sees Black boys and men this way.

    The women, though - they truly carry the story. The multigenerational aspect of the story is carried in every character, in their bodies and minds. The importance of ancestral love and resilience is at the center of these womens' lives. It works on so many levels, including the ways in which Black women must survive - a colonialist, imperialist, white supremacist society, yes, but really to survive white women, whose friendship is tenuous at best - a truth that remains as present today as it has ever been.

    It's been a long while since I've read a non-queer book that I loved this much. The characters are fully realized, the external plot and interior lives not only synced but engrossing. At just under 300 pages, it felt like a fast read, but one that won't be leaving me anytime soon. Highly recommend!

  • Bobbieshiann

    This story is like a string you come across that is so long you keep following it until you find out what’s at the end. A story where Black women narrate it and give you feelings of strength and courage. Black women raising their sons in the age were rap music is questionable and a time where looking a white man in the eyes is considered a “crime”.

    You are nurtured throughout this story as the past and the present collide in a powerful way in one families lineage. There is limited sympathy

    This story is like a string you come across that is so long you keep following it until you find out what’s at the end. A story where Black women narrate it and give you feelings of strength and courage. Black women raising their sons in the age were rap music is questionable and a time where looking a white man in the eyes is considered a “crime”.

    You are nurtured throughout this story as the past and the present collide in a powerful way in one families lineage. There is limited sympathy towards white women as they share their pain, but it is unmatched to every Black woman in this story. It has no real power in this story but does show how they seek comfort from Black women. “I could prepare my bath with white women’s tears”.

    I’ll admit I became naive towards the ending of the book. I thought this would be a time where maybe our voice would not be shattered by the mistakes of the white man BUT!!! I was wrong. The end hurt me in a way that I was oddly not prepared for.

    There is so much to take away from this story and highly recommend you read it! On that note, I will leave you with this quote from the book, “And my momma said you could tell a lot about a man by his shoes, but if she’d come visit me, I’d tell her that’s not true. My mama makes a lot of bad decisions in her life, and in a lot of ways I had to raise her, but this time I would tell her, that’s not true. So in case there’s a man in her life she needs to judge, she’ll know to find another way”.

  • Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)

    “I’m just tired. I’m just so, so tired. I’m tired of carrying it. I want somebody else to carry it for a minute. It never lets up. It’s like somebody’s fingers pinching me on the inside of my chest, and it won’t ease up…”

    .

    Those who read and enjoyed A Kind of Freedom will be pleased to know that Sexton’s latest release, The Revisioners, is now available.

    .

    This is a female-driven narrative following two women across three distinct time periods—we follow Josephine in both 1855 and 1924, and Ava in

    “I’m just tired. I’m just so, so tired. I’m tired of carrying it. I want somebody else to carry it for a minute. It never lets up. It’s like somebody’s fingers pinching me on the inside of my chest, and it won’t ease up…”

    .

    Those who read and enjoyed A Kind of Freedom will be pleased to know that Sexton’s latest release, The Revisioners, is now available.

    .

    This is a female-driven narrative following two women across three distinct time periods—we follow Josephine in both 1855 and 1924, and Ava in 2017. While they alternate, each narrative is linear within its own time which allows the reader to follow the threads with ease. Ava and her son, King, move in with her paternal grandmother, Martha, to care for her as her health declines. Early hints in the opening chapters to familial estrangement, coupled with this being a financially compensated arrangement, piqued my intrigue into this thread.

    .

    By the same measure, Josephine’s narrative immediately intrigued me because of the dual time periods covered, the significance of which becomes apparent both in the time periods chosen and intensifies as the narrative progresses and the connections to Ava’s narrative develop. Without going into anymore of the plot specifics so as to avoid spoilers (avoid Goodreads as the description there contains spoilers!), this is story that examines relationships between women across both a maternal and friendship setting, and the juxtaposition between privilege and marginalized experiences. It speaks to inherited and intergenerational traumas, the power of memory, and primarily to the journey each of the women are on to thrive in environments that are weighted against them.

    .

    This is one of my favorite fiction reads of the year and has cemented Sexton as an auto-read author for me going forward, I cannot recommend this one highly enough.

  • Read In Colour

    You know how you finish a book and rate it right away, but then you wake up the next day after you've had time to sleep on that book and you're like, no, that book wasn't really a 5 star, it's more of a 4 star? That's me with The Revisioners.

    I love the way Margaret Wilkerson Sexton travels back and forth between two different eras and two different protagonists. She did it really well in A Kind of Freedom and does it fairly well in The Revisioners, except when I woke up thinking about the story

    You know how you finish a book and rate it right away, but then you wake up the next day after you've had time to sleep on that book and you're like, no, that book wasn't really a 5 star, it's more of a 4 star? That's me with The Revisioners.

    I love the way Margaret Wilkerson Sexton travels back and forth between two different eras and two different protagonists. She did it really well in A Kind of Freedom and does it fairly well in The Revisioners, except when I woke up thinking about the story line this morning, it dawned on me that there were a number of loose ends that weren't tied up by the end of the book.

    Without giving too much away, I'll say there were characters in the present and in the past who were tied to each other, that much was spelled out. But there were other characters in the present and in the past who I think may have been tied to each other (or really should have been in my opinion), but I don't know if they were or if there was just an underlying message about the kind of people you can and cannot trust.

    Another thing that kind of shook me was the abrupt ending because it left a big question unanswered about one of the two protagonists. There were also unanswered questions in regards to some of the present day characters that left me scratching my proverbial head.

    Overall, The Revisioners is still a solid read, which is why I gave it four stars, I just wish the author had taken a little more time to give definitive answers instead of leaving readers to guess.

  • Jessica Woodbury

    Margaret Wilkerson Sexton bowled me over with her first novel, A KIND OF FREEDOM, a deeply resonant novel about three generations of a Black New Orleans family. Her second novel, THE REVISIONERS, also moves through time but over an even greater span: from 1855 to 1925 to 2017. At first it seems these periods could not be more different for Black women in the South, but even across such vast changes there is much that stays the same. This book is, above all, a love letter to the traditions Black

    Margaret Wilkerson Sexton bowled me over with her first novel, A KIND OF FREEDOM, a deeply resonant novel about three generations of a Black New Orleans family. Her second novel, THE REVISIONERS, also moves through time but over an even greater span: from 1855 to 1925 to 2017. At first it seems these periods could not be more different for Black women in the South, but even across such vast changes there is much that stays the same. This book is, above all, a love letter to the traditions Black women pass down, the strength and the power that survive.

    Josephine begins life as a slave, the 1855 sections of the book show us her life as a young girl. Josephine's mother is a Revisioner, a spiritual leader to the other slaves, with gifts of sight and knowledge of healing. Later, as an old woman, we see Josephine on her own land, able to enjoy all that she has built. Until everything threatens to be upended by an unassuming white woman who moves into the land next door. Ava is several generations removed from Josephine, but much of Josephine's power remains in their family. In an attempt to save money to get a new home for herself and her son, Ava moves in with her aging white grandmother. As we move back and forth between their stories, we see Josephine as a wise matriarch and Ava as she begins to come into her understanding of her own inheritance. We also see the ways well-meaning white women can seem harmless but leave massive destruction and pain in their wakes.

    THE REVISIONERS doesn't quite rise to the structural and emotional perfection of A KIND OF FREEDOM, but it doesn't seem to have that kind of goal. But like Sexton's first novel, it continues to expand the kinds of Black historical and generational fiction in the world. She's truly a fantastic talent, a must-read.

  • Angela M

    4.5

    Sometimes it’s startling to see how much history is so much a part of the present. This is a powerful story about how the prejudice of the past has in many ways not dissipated as some may think and as many of us hoped. Narrated in multiple time frames by two black women, separated by generations, but connected as family and as is evident at the end by so much more. Ava in 2017, divorced with a teenaged son, is down and out having lost her job and struggling to make ends meet . She decides to

    4.5

    Sometimes it’s startling to see how much history is so much a part of the present. This is a powerful story about how the prejudice of the past has in many ways not dissipated as some may think and as many of us hoped. Narrated in multiple time frames by two black women, separated by generations, but connected as family and as is evident at the end by so much more. Ava in 2017, divorced with a teenaged son, is down and out having lost her job and struggling to make ends meet . She decides to take a job as caretaker for her privileged white grandmother and she and her son move in with her. The narrative quickly switches to Josephine, Ava’s great-great-great grandmother to her life in 1924, having moved from share cropper to land owner and then moves back to her life as a young slave girl in 1855. The narratives alternate, but the movement between them feels seamless.

    So much is covered here - relationships between mothers and their children - Ava and her mother, Ava and her son, Josephine and her mother and her son. You’ll find some magical realism, powers of seeing , power to perhaps change things, healing in each of the time frames. The evils of the Ku Klux Klan in 1924 and the prejudice that still exists in the present day story is hard to read about, but imperative to be read. Throughout I kept wondering how Ava would connect to her great-great-great grandmother Josephine and I was not disappointed in how Sexton brings this full circle in some stunning moments. I never got around to reading Sexton’s much praised

    , but it’s on my to read list now. I’m thinking that it might be as beautifully written as this one.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Counterpoint through Edelweiss.

  • Arlene

    I really, really liked this book. It was touching, gripping. I even like the back and forth of the time jumping. I loved the connection between Josephine and Ava and their relationships with their mothers and I even saw myself and my mother's relationship reflected here. But I will say that they only thing that I didn't really vibe with was the way the book ended. I was left with so many questions, SO MANY questions. What happened with Josephine and her neighbors? What happened with Ava and

    I really, really liked this book. It was touching, gripping. I even like the back and forth of the time jumping. I loved the connection between Josephine and Ava and their relationships with their mothers and I even saw myself and my mother's relationship reflected here. But I will say that they only thing that I didn't really vibe with was the way the book ended. I was left with so many questions, SO MANY questions. What happened with Josephine and her neighbors? What happened with Ava and Grandma Martha? I need to know what happens! lol

  • Paris (parisperusing)

    Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s

    taps into the gifts, glories, and gospels of three generations of Black women who, in the face of slavery and its vestiges, must reckon with matters of faith and trust. The book shifts between chapters told by Ava, an out-of-work single mother living in 2017 New Orleans, and her great-grandmother Josephine — both from her time as a widowed self-made farmer in 1925 and in her youth on the plantation in 1855. Then there is Gladys, Ava’s mother and

    Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s

    taps into the gifts, glories, and gospels of three generations of Black women who, in the face of slavery and its vestiges, must reckon with matters of faith and trust. The book shifts between chapters told by Ava, an out-of-work single mother living in 2017 New Orleans, and her great-grandmother Josephine — both from her time as a widowed self-made farmer in 1925 and in her youth on the plantation in 1855. Then there is Gladys, Ava’s mother and Josephine’s daughter, who albeit chapter-less, affirms her place as a doula and the spiritual thread that connects them all. Without her, Ava might not have taken heed to the power within herself, nor the dangerous harbingers she overlooked after relocating with her son to the home of her seemingly harmless white grandmother, Martha, in exchange for payment.

    Just as Gladys feared, Ava becomes worn down by Martha’s protean mood swings, which give way to menacing outbursts that evoke pangs of another time, a time of the plantation, and one that still pangs the story’s matriarch in her old age. We see this in 1925 with Josephine, a miracle child reborn of powers inherited from her mother, a Revisioner — a Black spiritual healer and a sage among the other slaves she envisioned to freedom — when a KKK-affiliated white woman arrives at her door pining for camaraderie, one that ends in blood.

    For me, this heart-gripping story laid bare the many truths I’d already known of white entitlement, rage, and dishonesty, but also offered a larger notion of what it must mean to carry those burdens, of inheriting powers beyond our belief. Despite my reservations of the amount of wrongdoing I felt went spared in this book — Martha’s bigotry coddled by her age, a mother having to pander to the very people who murdered her child — I found catharsis in the true might of ancestral spirituality that was passed down to deliver us from those sorrows.

    Written in the vein of Jesmyn Ward’s “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” Sexton is a gifted storyteller who not only lends credence to the emotional endurance of her people but to the boundless power Black women can summon to survive.

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