Freshwater Road

Freshwater Road

When University of Michigan sophomore Celeste Tyree travels to Mississippi to volunteer her efforts in Freedom Summer, she's assigned to help register voters in the small town of Pineyville, a place best known for a notorious lynching that occurred only a few years earlier. As the long, hot summer unfolds, Celeste befriends several members of the community, but there are also those who are threatened by her and the change that her presence in the South represents. Finding inner strength as she helps lift the veil of oppression and learns valuable lessons about race, social change, and violence, Celeste prepares her adult students for their showdown with the county registrar. All the while, she struggles with loneliness, a worried father in Detroit, and her burgeoning feelings for Ed Jolivette, a young man also in Mississippi for the summer.
  • Gallery Books | 
  • 432 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416524823 | 
  • September 2006

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Discussion Guide

In June of 1964, University of Michigan sophomore Celeste Tyree leaves her middle class life traveling to Mississippi to volunteer for Freedom Summer. She joins student volunteers from across the country whose collective mission was to register disenfranchised black citizens to vote. Celeste is assigned to Pineyville, a small town best known for a notorious lynching. By day, she tutors the town's children in a freedom school. At night, she prepares the adults to take and pass the state's voter registration test, long used as a tool to disqualify black people from voting. As the summer unfolds, Celeste confronts not only the political realities of race and poverty in this tiny town, but also deep truths about her family and herself. She is drawn to Ed Jolivette, a deeply committed fellow volunteer and is schooled in the ways of the south by her hostess, the very religious, Mrs. Geneva Owens. She stands with the people of Pineyville in their quest for human and civil rights and learns the quality of their character and of her own.

Discussion Questions:
  1. What roles do her parents, Shuck and Wilamena, and her white boyfriend, J.P., play in Celeste Tyree's decision to volunteer with civil rights activists in Mississippi during Freedom Summer? How does Celeste's decision relate to her treatment of others in her childhood?

  2. "Miss'sippi
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About the Author

Denise Nicholas
Photo Credit:

Denise Nicholas

Denise Nicholas is an actor who starred in the TV series Room 222 and In the Heat of the Night, among many other tv, film, and theatrical productions. Freshwater Road is her first novel.