Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Excerpt from Yonder by Jabari Asim, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Yonder

A Novel

by Jabari Asim

Yonder by Jabari Asim X
Yonder by Jabari Asim
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2022, 272 pages

    Paperback:
    Jan 2023, 272 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Valerie Morales
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

I
The Gods Who Made Us

William

By my reckoning, I had fourteen harvests behind me when I saw the children. At the time, I was captive to a Thief named Norbrook, a tall, thin man with an unnerving stare and a smile that could easily be mistaken for a snarl. He was far from rich, with only a small farm and ten stolen people to his name. For our labors Norbrook gave us two daily meals of corn mush and bone soup, an annual gift of a pair of pants, dresses for women, long shirts for the children, a pair of ill-fitting boots, and as many stripes as our black skins could bear. We had hardships aplenty, yet we found some comfort in knowing that others in the world—rats, say, or snakes—had it even worse.

I was born into Norbrook's possession. Of my parents I had no knowledge. My earliest memories involve few human beings, Stolen or otherwise. Instead of recollections of first words or first steps or sweet lullabies that a mother might sing, I remember staggering with the others to the woods at dusk to fill our blankets with leaves. To assist and comfort Norbrook's pigs and cattle, we were obliged to pile foliage on the blankets—the same ragged cloth that sheltered us as we slept on the cold, damp earth at night—and drag them to the pens and stables, where we lined the animals' beds. This must have been one of my first tasks, tugging a weight nearly as heavy as myself, battling the swarms of black flies and mosquitoes as they landed heavily and pecked at my eyes, ears, and mouth. So often did I trudge and sweat in this manner that my young mind entertained few thoughts beyond this discomfort, and often I couldn't tell if I was dreaming or awake. Most of Norbrook's Stolen were acquired by schemes carried out in the shadows, including gambling, rigged auctions, and unseemly bargains. We suffered his tormenting while he wrestled with debt, claiming he would soon achieve a run of profit that would swell his purse and bring him the hurrahs and hand-clapping he so richly deserved.

While dodging his creditors, he learned about the ill luck of a trader named Bill Myers. This man attended auctions throughout the state, acquiring Stolen women whose days as breeders were running dry. Many of them had their youngest children in their arms. Myers stored his purchases and their babes in a shuttered log pen in town and assigned two old aunties to maintain them on broth and crumbs. Soon after, he gathered only the mothers and drove them south for sale, leaving their children behind, with an eye toward returning and harvesting them. But he was detained, and the young ones were left to suffer as winter approached. Once Norbrook learned of Myers's situation, he thought he might collect the orphans and fatten them up for a quick profit. He assigned me to prepare the wagon and go with him on the ride to town. But we got there too late.

Norbrook and I entered to the smell of rotting meat. Flies clotted the air with excited buzzing. Here and there lay lumps of flesh, which a closer look revealed as dead children. Some twenty in all, they had each come to rest with their backs against a wall, curled in shapes that recalled the wombs they had not so long ago departed. None of them was older than three harvests, hardly old enough to do much walking, let alone tall enough or strong enough to solve the barred door and summon help. Had no one heard them cry for their mothers? For milk? Perhaps the noise in the surrounding streets had muffled their desperate wailing.

Norbrook had arranged for a physician, a Dr. LeMaire, to meet us at the pen and give the children a looking over. Minutes after we got there, he pushed open the door, expanding the wedge of light our entrance had created. He reached in his vest pocket and pressed a handkerchief to his nose and mouth, shook his head, and muttered softly. I noted his watering eyes and could not decide if he was overcome with grief or driven to tears by the smell.

From YONDER: A Novel by Jabari Asim. Copyright © 2022 by Jabari Asim. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Demon of Unrest
    The Demon of Unrest
    by Erik Larson
    In the aftermath of the 1860 presidential election, the divided United States began to collapse as ...
  • Book Jacket: Daughters of Shandong
    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung
    Daughters of Shandong is the debut novel of Eve J. Chung, a human rights lawyer living in New York. ...
  • Book Jacket: Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    by Xochitl Gonzalez
    Brooklyn-based novelist Xochitl Gonzalez is an inspiring writer to follow. At forty, she decided to ...
  • Book Jacket: Icarus
    Icarus
    by K. Ancrum
    The titular protagonist of K. Ancrum's young adult novel Icarus lives a double life that mixes the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Romantic Comedy
by Curtis Sittenfeld
A comedy writer's stance on love shifts when a pop star challenges her assumptions in this witty and touching novel.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    This Strange Eventful History
    by Claire Messud

    An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history.

  • Book Jacket

    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung

    Eve J. Chung's debut novel recounts a family's flight to Taiwan during China's Communist revolution.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.