If Sons, Then Heirs

If Sons, Then Heirs

A Novel

“An absorbing and moving tale” (Publishers Weekly)—a uniquely American story of the consequences of past decisions on present realities.

After World War II, the Needham family moved north to Philadelphia from South Carolina, leaving behind the tragic injustice surrounding the violent death of their patriarch, King. His devoted widow, Selma, remains on the old home place. Over the years, she raises King’s children, including his great-grandson, Rayne, on whom falls the responsibility of bringing the family together, saving the family land, and mending the rift with his mother.

If Sons, Then Heirs is a tour de force that explores the power of family secrets, bonds, and love. Rayne and the other characters face challenges big and small that mirror the experiences of families everywhere. But in the masterful storytelling of Lorene Cary, their voices are so distinct and unique that they will live in the minds of readers long after the last page is read.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451610239 | 
  • February 2012
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Read an Excerpt


Jewell Thompson nosed her sedan into the narrow Philadelphia street. She had directions on the seat next to her, and also the letter. In her mind, a voice from the past, her grandmother’s, shouted: “We home!” which was ridiculous, since she’d never been on this street, or even in this section of the city, before.

Outside her noisy mind, rows of identical two-story brick houses squatted beside Cobbs Creek Park, muffled by heavy fog and a cold, early-spring, early-Sunday-morning quiet. She had to drive cautiously. No more than four or five inches separated her driver’s side from... see more

About the Author

Lorene Cary
Photograph by Daniel Schwartz

Lorene Cary

Lorene Cary is the author of Black Ice, The Price of a Child, Pride, and a book for young readers, Free! Great Escapes on the Underground Railroad. She is the founder and director of Art Sanctuary (www.artsanctuary.org), a nonprofit lecture and performance series in Philadelphia. Cary is also a senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania. She’s a past recipient of the Philadelphia Award, the city's highest civic honor. Cary lives in Philadelphia. She and her husband, the Reverend Robert C. Smith, have two daughters, Laura and Zoë. For more information visit her website at www.lorenecary.org.




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