Caul Baby: Book summary and reviews of Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

Caul Baby

by Morgan Jerkins

Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins X
Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2021
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

New York Times bestselling author Morgan Jerkins makes her fiction debut with this electrifying novel, for fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jacqueline Woodson, that brings to life one powerful and enigmatic family in a tale rife with secrets, betrayal, intrigue, and magic.

Laila desperately wants to become a mother, but each of her previous pregnancies has ended in heartbreak. This time has to be different, so she turns to the Melancons, an old and powerful Harlem family known for their caul, a precious layer of skin that is the secret source of their healing power.

When a deal for Laila to acquire a piece of caul falls through, she is heartbroken, but when the child is stillborn, she is overcome with grief and rage. What she doesn't know is that a baby will soon be delivered in her family—by her niece, Amara, an ambitious college student—and delivered to the Melancons to raise as one of their own. Hallow is special: she's born with a caul, and their matriarch, Maman, predicts the girl will restore the family's prosperity.

Growing up, Hallow feels that something in her life is not right. Did Josephine, the woman she calls mother, really bring her into the world? Why does her cousin Helena get to go to school and roam the streets of New York freely while she's confined to the family's decrepit brownstone?

As the Melancons' thirst to maintain their status grows, Amara, now a successful lawyer running for district attorney, looks for a way to avenge her longstanding grudge against the family. When mother and daughter cross paths, Hallow will be forced to decide where she truly belongs.

Engrossing, unique, and page-turning, Caul Baby illuminates the search for familial connection, the enduring power of tradition, and the dark corners of the human heart.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A multilayered reflection of contemporary dilemmas with a touch of magic realism...Readers are taken through a spectrum of emotions with a satisfying payoff. On the heels of her excellent memoir Wandering in Strange Lands, Jerkins solidifies herself as one of our guiding literary lights." - Booklist (starred review)

"Jerkins makes her fiction debut with the rich if didactic story of the Melancon family and the shadow they cast over present-day Harlem...the premise is restricted by occasionally prosaic writing...and the heavy-handed moral of the story...Still, it's vividly conceived, and the strong plot will carry readers to the end." - Publishers Weekly

"An intriguing idea for magical realism in Harlem [that] delivers too little of either." - Kirkus Reviews

"The astounding talent behind nonfiction must-reads This Will Be My Undoing and Wandering in Strange Lands turns to fiction with Caul Baby...An exhilarating tale of family, belonging, and bodies, this promises to be one of the most exciting releases of the year." - Elle

"Caul Baby is a deeply inventive meditation on survival and inheritance. Morgan writes about the intricacies of Black motherhood in a way that is tender and at times, magic." - Raven Leilani, New York Times bestselling author of Luster

This information about Caul Baby shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Morgan Jerkins

Morgan Jerkins is a senior editor at Medium's ZORA magazine. Her work has been featured in the New Yorker, Vogue, the New York Times, the Atlantic, Elle, Rolling Stone, Lenny Letter, and BuzzFeed, among many other outlets. She lives in New York.

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