" Where does one person’s story end and another’s begin, especially the story of a mother and child, child and mother?” In Connie Biewald's moving, bighearted novel, a single mother and her two sons grapple with their identities and the hidden truths that frame her past and their beginnings. TRUTH LIKE OIL engrosses and entrances - we love these characters in all their frailties and failures because their depiction is so real. We know these people, believe in them, and are rooting for them. I love this book."
" Heartfelt and grounded, TRUTH LIKE OIL glows with authenticity and experience--what a pleasure."
Vivid with complex characters, TRUTH LIKE OIL is a heart-affirming novel centered on Nadine Antoine, and her two sons, --one brimming with potential; the other full of problems. Saddled by the weight of a troubled adolescence, resilient Nadine, a Haitian-American nurse aide, is intent on her sons rising above the odds trapping so many young Black men in this graceful story that explores race, identity, prejudice, community and secrets. Emotionally true and beautifully written, TRUTH LIKE OIL is a timely gift to be shared.
Connie Biewald's novel reaches across a net of characters whose attachment and obligation to one another transcends all false lines of kinship (race, age, class, nationality) to celebrate the true ones: love, compassion, charity, and justice. Haitian Nadine, at novel's center, reminds me of the fierce mothers from the time of Grace Paley and Tillie Olson; Biewald follows in their footsteps, updating yet honoring the toil and trouble of loving one's children.
TRUTH LIKE OIL is the moving and ultimately uplifting story of a single woman from Haiti, and her sons – two very different boys – each struggling with the secrets necessary to the preservation of personal integrity. Connie Biewald’s honest prose hums with love for her characters as they navigate the complexities of life in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her graceful rendering of Haiti’s influence on each of them grounds the unraveling and reformation of their relationships, mother to son, brother to brother, lover to lover, and family to community. You’ll find yourself wondering – long after you’ve finished the rewarding conclusion – about how Nadine and her boys are doing now, as if you’re missing old friends.
Full of wisdom and compassion, this emotionally bountiful novel is a thoroughly contemporary portrayal of family in all its flaws and resilience. Connie Biewald's cast of richly developed characters are steeped in place and displacement as they move through layers of yearning and pain toward connection. Strong women learn to love without weakness. Fatherless boys learn to be men. Individuals navigate racial and economic inequities, the vagaries of aging and loss, and the joy and hope of birth. Big-hearted and intelligent, this novel grabs you from the first page and lingers long after the last.
3 Novels by Connie
Bread and Salt, Roses Take Practice and Digging to Indochina comprise the loosely connected Rivertown Trilogy, rich with overlapping characters and the struggle and redemption of being human.
Bread and Salt
Germany, 1914. Three young sisters are torn from their mother and each other, sent to the country to do the work of farmers off fighting in the Great War. They struggle to endure the painful separation.
Roses Take Practice
A drama about a young, working class woman seeking to escape the confines of her troubled family and small town, who, through some unexpected relationships and surprising talent, just might succeed.
Digging to Indochina
Seventeen-year-old Ivy MacKenzie is consumed by bitterness over the tragic death of her Vietnam veteran father. Desperate to break free of a family that doesn’t understand her and a small town that suffocates her, Ivy runs away with Gil Thompson a stranger who shows her a passion she’s never known and a violent danger she never saw coming.
Connie Biewald has been writing stories in an effort to explore human relationships since she was five years old. She has been a teacher for more than 40 years, sharing her love of reading and writing with homeschoolers and hundreds of students in public and private schools in the US and Haiti. For the past thirty-five years she has been both a librarian and a Growth Education resource person at the Fayerweather Street School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In her Growth Ed role, Connie works with children, parents and other teachers exploring the essential topics of human development-self esteem, the use and misuse of power, altruism and community service, sexuality, appreciation and understanding of differences. This work is reflected in her writing. She is the grateful recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council artist grant, a PEN New England Discovery Award and numerous residencies.