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Reviews of Long After We Are Gone by Terah Harris

Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Long After We Are Gone

A Novel

by Terah Shelton Harris
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  • First Published:
  • May 14, 2024
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About This Book

Book Summary

An explosive and emotional story of four siblings―each fighting their own personal battle―who return home in the wake of their father's death in order to save their family's home from being sold out from under them, from the author of One Summer in Savannah.

"Don't let the white man take the house."

These are the last words King Solomon says to his son before he dies. Now all four Solomon siblings must return to North Carolina to save the Kingdom, their ancestral home and 200 acres of land, from a development company, who has their sights set on turning the valuable waterfront property into a luxury resort.

While fighting to save the Kingdom, the siblings must also save themselves from the secrets they've been holding onto. Junior, the oldest son and married to his wife for 11 years, is secretly in love with another man. Second son, Mance, can't control his temper, which has landed him in prison more than once. CeCe, the oldest daughter and a lawyer in New York City, has embezzled thousands of dollars from her firm's clients. Youngest daughter, Tokey, wonders why she doesn't seem to fit into this family, which has left an aching hole in her heart that she tries to fill in harmful ways. As the Solomons come together to fight for the Kingdom, each of their façades begins to crumble and collide in unexpected ways.

Told in alternating viewpoints, Long After We Are Gone is a searing portrait on the power of family and letting go of things that no longer serve you, exploring the burden of familial expectations, the detriment of miscommunication, and the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children.

Excerpt
Long After We Are Gone

People who don't live here call it the Solomon Plantation after the original owner, John Solomon, who built it in 1782. The locals, including his siblings, call it the Kingdom, in honor of King Solomon, Mance's father, and every firstborn son in the Solomon family. Even for eighteenth-century architecture, the house has a heft and audacity that is striking. A fortress. Too impractical, too big for every iteration of the Solomon family who has lived here.

Mance looks in the direction of the workshop and contemplates his and King's day, set to begin in a few hours. Normally, he doesn't know what King will have him doing. But today, he knows.

The front of the Kingdom is sagging. More specifically, the second-floor porch now droops, the old columns, last replaced a hundred years ago, no longer able to shoulder the weight of the roof. Thanks to a recent hurricane, the entire facade of the house, not just the second-floor porch, would have collapsed if not for the ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
    These questions include spoilers. Do not read until after you've finished the book.

  1. What do you think each of the siblings' different reactions to the passing of their father says about them? What do you think it says about grief in general?
  2. How did each of the four siblings grow and change through- out the course of the book?
  3. The Department of Agriculture calls heir property the lead- ing cause of Black land loss in the U.S. Were you familiar with the concept of heir property before you read this book? What is your take on it?
  4. Was there one sibling whose story or struggles particularly resonated with you?
  5. Junior's inner man and outer man are constantly battling each other. Do you sometimes feel like a different person on the ...
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Here are some of the comments posted about Long After We Are Gone.
You can see the full discussion here.


Are there passages or quotes that stood out for you?
I was struck by the richness of Ms Harris' descriptions. One of my favorites is "“The humid air stinks of minimum wage and food stamps, of fried food and bad decisions.” Are there passages that you find richly descriptive? - chrisnicel

Each of the siblings makes some pretty questionable choices. Do you think they all redeem themselves in the end?
I think a girl summed up my feelings very well. - swchis39

How did each of the four siblings grow and change throughout the course of the book in your view? Was there one sibling whose story or struggles particularly resonated with you?
I loved following the growth of the four siblings. After losing Simon, Junior learned to stop being who others expected him to be and just be himself. Mance learned to leave behind his life of violence. Cece has to accept the consequences of her ... - bettyt

How did each of the siblings feel about their relationship to the family property, in your opinion? Were they all equally impacted by the family’s history on the land? Did that change by the end of the novel?
I thought Mance and Tokey were the most connected to The Kingdom, maybe because they chose to stay there. Although, Tokey may have been more of a prisoner to that life than choosing it. But they did all seem to understand that selling the land was ... - scottishrose

How do you see the effects of intergenerational trauma playing out among each of the characters? Do you think they were successful in breaking the "Solomon curse"?
Sometimes the only way to get a fresh start is to get rid of something that has been the weight on the shoulders of those involved. In this case it seems to have been the land and house. At the end, the family members did seem to have come together ... - rebeccar

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Terah Shelton Harris's marvelous family drama Long After We Are Gone begins with the death of the Solomon family patriarch, King, whose last words are "don't let the white man take the house." As his four adult children return to the farm that their ancestors have occupied for generations, they discover how difficult it will be to fulfill King's wish. Because King had no will, developers are challenging the family's ownership of the valuable waterfront property. Although the property dispute provides the bones of the story, at its heart are its four main characters. Each is beautifully drawn and unique, coming into the novel harboring painful secrets that they're unwilling to share with the people who should love them unconditionally. Separated by age and temperament, they all feel isolated from the others in their own ways. As the book begins they've individually hit crises unrelated to King's death, aching to reach a point where their lives are stable — and the pain of each situation is palpable. The siblings are all deeply flawed but so relatable that they feel like friends rather than characters in a book...continued

Full Review Members Only (642 words)

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

Booklist
Delving into themes of race and generational trauma...offers book clubs plenty to discuss in this emotional novel full of complex characters striving to do the right thing but stumbling along the way.

Author Blurb Erica Bauermeister, New York Times bestselling author of No Two Persons
A big, beautiful, devastating, and ultimately hopeful novel.

Author Blurb Etaf Rum, New York Times bestselling author of A Woman is No Man and Evil Eye
Explosive and emotionally charged.

Author Blurb Tara Conklin, New York Times bestselling author ofThe House Girl and The Last Romantics
A tour de force of history, injustice, and the brutal, beautiful everlasting ties of family.

Reader Reviews

Betty Taylor

Emotional Sibling Drama
"Long After We Are Gone" by Terah Shelton Harris is a compelling and evocative exploration of family, secrets, and redemption. The novel centers around the Solomon siblings, who return to their North Carolina home, known as “The Kingdom,” following ...   Read More
Carmel B

A House Is Not A Home
Secrets, lies, shame and guilt prevent three generations from enjoying their family home and each other, until four gritty siblings join forces to change their future. While we watch each one of them reach inside themselves and come to their ...   Read More
Carmel B

A House Is Not A Home
Secrets, lies, shame and guilt prevent three generations from enjoying their family home and each other, until four gritty siblings join forces to change their future. While we watch each one of them reach inside themselves and come to their ...   Read More
Sonia Francis

Drama in King Solomon kingdom
Family saga- this one is for you. Long After We Are Gone is a ridiculously explosive account of the Solomon family and the secrets each carry. Coming together after their father’s death to save their ancestral home is no easy task. Each of the...   Read More

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Beyond the Book



An Overview of Black Land Loss in America

Color photo of a group of Black farmers with signs protesting USDA discrimination at Lafayette Park, 1997 In Terah Shelton Harris's novel Long After We Are Gone, the family at the heart of the story is at risk of losing their land because it's considered "heir property" (aka "heir's property" and "heirs' property"). The author defines this as "a form of ownership in which descendants inherit an interest in the land, similar to holding stock in a company. Heir property does not constitute a clear title which means the land is vulnerable to developers, corporations, and governments to use 'legal' laws to acquire the land." Because of the vagaries of ownership associated with heir property, it's often been used to deprive Black farmers of their inherited land — just one of many such tools that have been systematically employed to ...

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