The Twelve-mile Straight: A Novel by Eleanor HendersonThe Twelve-mile Straight: A Novel by Eleanor Henderson

The Twelve-mile Straight: A Novel

byEleanor Henderson

Hardcover | September 12, 2017

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*An Entertainment Weekly "Must-Read" Book for Fall*

From New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Henderson, an audacious American epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.

Cotton County, Georgia, 1930: in a house full of secrets, two babies-one light-skinned, the other dark-are born to Elma Jesup, a white sharecropper’s daughter. Accused of her rape, field hand Genus Jackson is lynched and dragged behind a truck down the Twelve-Mile Straight, the road to the nearby town. In the aftermath, the farm’s inhabitants are forced to contend with their complicity in a series of events that left a man dead and a family irrevocably fractured.

Despite the prying eyes and curious whispers of the townspeople, Elma begins to raise her babies as best as she can, under the roof of her mercurial father, Juke, and with the help of Nan, the young black housekeeper who is as close to Elma as a sister. But soon it becomes clear that the ties that bind all of them together are more intricate than any could have ever imagined. As startling revelations mount, a web of lies begins to collapse around the family, destabilizing their precarious world and forcing all to reckon with the painful truth.

Acclaimed author Eleanor Henderson has returned with a novel that combines the intimacy of a family drama with the staggering presence of a great Southern saga. Tackling themes of racialized violence, social division, and financial crisis, The Twelve-Mile Straight is a startlingly timely, emotionally resonant, and magnificent tour de force.


Eleanor Henderson was born in Greece, grew up in Florida, and attended Middlebury College and the University of Virginia. Her debut novel, Ten Thousand Saints, was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2011 by the New York Times and a finalist for the Award for First Fiction from the Los Angeles Times and was adapted into a film in 2015. A...
Title:The Twelve-mile Straight: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:560 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.37 inPublished:September 12, 2017Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062422081

ISBN - 13:9780062422088

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Such a great story! I loved this book! It was a great story, well written. Enjoyed how it switched back and forth between different time periods. Look forward to reading more of her books.
Date published: 2018-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved the Time Period I have a love for the circus lifestyle of the 1930's. I thought this aspect of the book was fantastic. There was a lot of attention to the details. The second story line was just okay for me. Overall an interesting read for me.
Date published: 2018-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Poignant and Heartwarming Story As always, Ellen Marie Wiseman never ceases to amaze me with her flawless writing and poignant yet heartwarming story. This moving tale is told from two point of view alternating between Lilly Blackwood in the 1930s and Julia Blackwood in the 1950s. Lilly's life is turned upside down when she was sold by her mother to The Barlow Brother's Circus sideshow. More than two decades later, Julia Blackwood's life is transformed when she inherited her parents' estate, (The Blackwood Manor) and a horse farm. One day when Julia was looking through her father's belongings, she found paper clippings and photos of Lilly Blackwood and somehow she suspected there's a connection between them. This is a well-written, well-researched & well-paced book. I enjoyed both time period as they were full of vivid descriptions. But since I like circus, I enjoyed Lilly's story better. There were trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, mediums, freakshows, elephant shows, lion shows, and other resplendent shows! All these circus fun also comes with its dark side of abuse and mistreatments of both the sideshow performers and animals as well. It was heartbreaking. This is a story of love, betrayal, friendships, family secrets and forgiveness. I highly recommend this intriguing and poignant novel for any historical fiction fan.
Date published: 2018-07-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It! This book gets a 5 star rating just because it had me hooked from the first chapter. The switching of the narrative every other chapter kept me reading, even when I should’ve stopped. It reminded me so much of a combination of “Flowers in the Attic” and “Water for Elephants”. The entire book was haunting and wonderfully descriptive with characters that you both love and loathe entirely. I would definitely recommend this emotionally charged book!
Date published: 2018-04-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Yes! This was a very different and exciting book, I'm very happy with it!
Date published: 2018-02-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Emotional and Exciting Read Being a fan of Wiseman's previous books, I was excited to read this one. The story was different and exciting, although the book followed her previous formats (strong female protagonist with a series of challenges in front of her). The book ended up being a little predictable, but enjoyed nonetheless.
Date published: 2017-10-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Gripping and emotional story This book was fantastic! Could not stop reading it. It is a twisted story with abuse, heart ache and mystery. This is an absolute must read for anyone who enjoys a mystery novel. This is the first novel I have read by the author but I intend on reading all of the ones she has published.
Date published: 2017-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from MUST READ THIS BOOK, OMG! Lilly was born an albino in the early 1930s during the depression to a family that was fairly well off during that time, the family owned Blackwood Manor and horse farm. Lilly’s mother kept her locked up in the attic until Lilly was ten years old before selling her to the Circus where she became a member of the “freak show”. All the time Lilly was locked up in the attic, hidden away from the outside world, her mother told her she was a monster and an abomination. Her mother was a religious fanatic and kept Bibles in Lilly’s tiny attic room and made her pray and read scripture devoutly. It’s hard to say if her mother was always this way with religion, or if she became that way after Lily was born, it doesn’t really say in the book, i’m guessing maybe after the birth of Lily, because, after having eight miscarriages, her mother vowed to sell her soul to the devil for a baby, and after Lilly was born with her condition, her mother believed it was because of the deal she made with the devil. Through the happenings of Lilly’s tragic and sad life it would seem like Lilly was absolutely a cursed child no doubt. In the second chapter we meet Julia an eighteen year old girl in the 1950s. She is a struggling, barely getting by waitress in a little diner, she is not sure if she is going to have a meal that night or be able to pay her rent for the apartment she and her abusive boyfriend are living in. A private investigator shows up to the diner one night with a letter, informing Julia that she has inherited her childhood home, the home that she ran away from two years prior, is now hers. Her mother has passed and left the Blackwood Manor to her. Arriving at the creepy and possibly haunted manor, she discovers a disturbing secret that she is determined to get to the bottom of. From here bombshell after bombshell is dropped, right to the very last page. A few times I actually gasped and whispered “oh my gosh.” I enjoyed this book immensely, this story has stuck in my mind, it really had an impact on me. The author really did a wonderful job with her research of that time period, and took some actual true events from history and weaved them into this unique skin crawling story. Knowing that a lot of the story was inspired by actual events makes this story that much more gripping. I saved this book to read at the end of my day, which for me is when I save the best books to read, it is the quietest and the time when everyone is unwinding themselves or already in bed. This is my me time. Unfortunately, this is when i’m in my bed, before going to sleep. Unfortunate because this book was too good to put down and two nights in a row I stayed up all night reading. This is a must read!
Date published: 2017-08-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Be prepared for emotions! Wow, this book was riveting all the way through. I don't normally like when a book switches pov with every chapter, but it worked perfectly in this case, allowing a perfect build-up to the conclusion. I loved all the characters, elephants included, and I loved the air of mystery that keeps you guessing as to how it all ends up. I'll admit it did not end the way I had initially thought it would, but I did guess right with regards to some aspects of the conclusion. I had recommended this to my mother in law when I was halfway through it, but now I'm not sure because it gets cree-py at the end! The book begins with gross child neglect and cruelty but moves into animal cruelty and then back to all around cruelty and messed up people!!! Be prepared for a multitude of emotions.
Date published: 2017-07-30

Editorial Reviews

“Searing...The Twelve-Mile Straight takes readers to some remarkable places, always brought to life in Henderson’s lean, vivid prose.”