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Perish

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From a stunning new voice comes a powerful debut novel, Perish, about a Black Texan family, exploring the effects of inherited trauma and intergenerational violence as the family comes together to say goodbye to their matriarch on her deathbed. Bear it or perish. Those are the words Helen Jean hears that fateful night in her cousin’s outhouse that change the trajectory of h From a stunning new voice comes a powerful debut novel, Perish, about a Black Texan family, exploring the effects of inherited trauma and intergenerational violence as the family comes together to say goodbye to their matriarch on her deathbed. Bear it or perish. Those are the words Helen Jean hears that fateful night in her cousin’s outhouse that change the trajectory of her life. Spanning decades, Perish tracks the choices Helen Jean—the matriarch of the Turner family—makes and the ways those choices have rippled across generations, from her children to her grandchildren and beyond. Told in alternating chapters that follow four members of the Turner family: Julie B., a woman who regrets her wasted youth and the time spent under Helen Jean’s thumb; Alex, a police officer grappling with a dark and twisted past; Jan, a mother of two, who yearns to go to school and leave Jerusalem, Texas, and all of its trauma behind for good; and Lydia, a woman whose marriage is falling apart because her body can’t seem to stay pregnant, as they’re called home to say goodbye to their mother and grandmother. This family’s “reunion” unearths long-kept secrets and forces each member to ask themselves important questions about who is deserving of forgiveness and who bears the cross of blame. Tackling themes like family, trauma, legacy, home, class, race, and more, this beautiful yet heart-wrenching novel will appeal to anyone who is interested in the intricacies of family and the ways bonds can be made, maintained, or irrevocably broken.


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From a stunning new voice comes a powerful debut novel, Perish, about a Black Texan family, exploring the effects of inherited trauma and intergenerational violence as the family comes together to say goodbye to their matriarch on her deathbed. Bear it or perish. Those are the words Helen Jean hears that fateful night in her cousin’s outhouse that change the trajectory of h From a stunning new voice comes a powerful debut novel, Perish, about a Black Texan family, exploring the effects of inherited trauma and intergenerational violence as the family comes together to say goodbye to their matriarch on her deathbed. Bear it or perish. Those are the words Helen Jean hears that fateful night in her cousin’s outhouse that change the trajectory of her life. Spanning decades, Perish tracks the choices Helen Jean—the matriarch of the Turner family—makes and the ways those choices have rippled across generations, from her children to her grandchildren and beyond. Told in alternating chapters that follow four members of the Turner family: Julie B., a woman who regrets her wasted youth and the time spent under Helen Jean’s thumb; Alex, a police officer grappling with a dark and twisted past; Jan, a mother of two, who yearns to go to school and leave Jerusalem, Texas, and all of its trauma behind for good; and Lydia, a woman whose marriage is falling apart because her body can’t seem to stay pregnant, as they’re called home to say goodbye to their mother and grandmother. This family’s “reunion” unearths long-kept secrets and forces each member to ask themselves important questions about who is deserving of forgiveness and who bears the cross of blame. Tackling themes like family, trauma, legacy, home, class, race, and more, this beautiful yet heart-wrenching novel will appeal to anyone who is interested in the intricacies of family and the ways bonds can be made, maintained, or irrevocably broken.

30 review for Perish

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mocha Drop

    Whew! Two thoughts come to mind: The Past Can Follow You and Hurt People Hurt People! Perish is a VERY dark, dysfunctional intergenerational family saga that focuses on the (in-)actions of a matriarch, a desperate Helen Jean, the only girl in a family of men, who in 1955 at 16 years-old, makes a covenant with God after a failed abortion attempt on the fetid floor of the family's outhouse. Having lost her mother to suicide, Helen Jean's brokenness is caused by traumatic events and circumstances b Whew! Two thoughts come to mind: The Past Can Follow You and Hurt People Hurt People! Perish is a VERY dark, dysfunctional intergenerational family saga that focuses on the (in-)actions of a matriarch, a desperate Helen Jean, the only girl in a family of men, who in 1955 at 16 years-old, makes a covenant with God after a failed abortion attempt on the fetid floor of the family's outhouse. Having lost her mother to suicide, Helen Jean's brokenness is caused by traumatic events and circumstances beyond her control making her a sympathetic character who gets consumed by pain, hopelessness, grief, and anger. With few options, she drinks to forget and when buoyed by alcohol her heart hardens, her bad choices results in a sullied reputation with controlling ways – eventually developing a life-long mean-streak toward anything and everybody – intimidating and dominating her men and family included. The proverbial "fruit does not fall far from the tree" rings true in this diseased family tree and irreparable damage is inflicted on the innocents in horrific ways (check the trigger warnings below) -- hardly anyone is spared - she, her sibling, her children (and others), her grandchildren, and her neighbors...even her husbands are disrespected and abused. Lives and childhoods are destroyed. Everyone suffers and sadly, they do not know why for a LONG time -- in fact, the novel essentially opens at Helen's end when the family is called together in her last moments of life while hospitalized. As the family travels to Jerusalem, Texas, the novel is propelled by the points of view of her heirs and siblings via flashbacks told in alternating chapters which reveal their experiences through decades of ugliness, pain, and sorrow and their poor attempts of coping, including repressed memories. There are many painful passages that are simply hard to read; but the reader and characters must push through to get the answers to the "whys" that have haunted them all their lives and to ultimately reveal "Grandmoan's" and their parents' darkest secrets. This debut author handled the pace well, character development (their POVs, personalities, thoughts and actions were credible/believable), and sense of place, differing eras and atmosphere were accurate and painted well – I would have thought this was the work of a seasoned author. Trigger Warnings: Incest, Child Abuse/Molestation/Rape, Domestic/Physical and Emotional Abuse, Verbal Abuse, Suicide, Mental Illness, and alcohol/drug use. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an opportunity to review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Danielle | Dogmombookworm

    When I tell you that this is gut wrenching and destroying I really mean it. You should consult trigger warnings before picking this up if you think you might need to. This is an intergenerational story of passed down trauma and shame. the first few pages deals with a young woman who is trying to induce an abortion by drinking turpentine. She's advised it will kill her if she drinks too much; she must either bear it or perish. She makes this covenant with herself them and there and decides to bea When I tell you that this is gut wrenching and destroying I really mean it. You should consult trigger warnings before picking this up if you think you might need to. This is an intergenerational story of passed down trauma and shame. the first few pages deals with a young woman who is trying to induce an abortion by drinking turpentine. She's advised it will kill her if she drinks too much; she must either bear it or perish. She makes this covenant with herself them and there and decides to bear it. We follow along with 4 generations of her progeny who seem to similarly deal with their pain by burying the shame. Rather than dealing with the monsters and monstrous pain they've caused, they never speak of what's happened and allow the pain to keep bleeding through future generations. This was so hard to read and for some I think they will draw a line at reading from an assaulter's POV. But in the case of this book the majority of assaulters are also victims. And indeed how far back do we have to draw history to see where the pain began? To some degree though it felt like the harm done and perpetuated at every generation was just too inconceivable. But this is I presume a work of fiction and I understand also why it was done. [4.5]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    4.5 stars rounded up! Did I pick up this book solely because the author and I share the same first name? Absolutely. I do recommend this book with hesitancy because there is graphic child sexual assault as well as other types of abuse in this book and abortions. Again, the content is very heavy, and I do not want to make light of that. I think the author does an incredible job of approaching these topics with grace. Perish is a gut-wrenching family saga that deals with inherited generational trau 4.5 stars rounded up! Did I pick up this book solely because the author and I share the same first name? Absolutely. I do recommend this book with hesitancy because there is graphic child sexual assault as well as other types of abuse in this book and abortions. Again, the content is very heavy, and I do not want to make light of that. I think the author does an incredible job of approaching these topics with grace. Perish is a gut-wrenching family saga that deals with inherited generational trauma coupled with intergenerational violence in a brutally honest and unflinching manner. The story follows a Black Texan family from Jerusalem, TX. The story follows the life of the matriarch (Helen Jean) and how her decisions have affected the generations after her including her children and grandchildren. The story does alternate through multiple POVs as the reader gets to know Helen Jean, her children, and her grandchildren. So much of this story focuses on burying the abuse and shame that happens within each generation, which inevitably leads to the cycle continuing. This story was so incredibly heartbreaking, and all the while I just wanted to scream at everyone, but in the same respect, we see these types of cycles continue within families to this day. I do also want to point out that there are some chapters that are from the POV of one of the abusers, which again, was difficult to read. At no point did I think that these chapters served as a tool for sympathy, but instead ponders the age-old question of nature versus nurture as well as breaking the cycle of abuse. If you're an audiobook lover, this one is fantastic because it is narrated by a full cast, which makes it easier to move through the alternating POVs. Overall, I am just blown away by this incredibly powerful debut. While I don’t think that this book will be for everyone, I for one can’t wait to see what else is in store for this author. Thank you PRH Audio & Tiny Reparations Books for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Book Witch Bitch

    The phrase, “be a good ancestor,” kept coming to my mind as I read “Perish,” by LatoyaWatkins (coming August 2022), but being a good ancestor is hardly that simple. We’re only human. This superb family saga spans generations of Harper Jean’s family, the choices they make, and how those choices ripple through time and space. Harper Jean-the family matriarch-is dying, thus her children, grandchildren and other relatives must come together to hear her final words. This beautifully wrought family st The phrase, “be a good ancestor,” kept coming to my mind as I read “Perish,” by LatoyaWatkins (coming August 2022), but being a good ancestor is hardly that simple. We’re only human. This superb family saga spans generations of Harper Jean’s family, the choices they make, and how those choices ripple through time and space. Harper Jean-the family matriarch-is dying, thus her children, grandchildren and other relatives must come together to hear her final words. This beautifully wrought family story brings trauma, heartache and the promise of hope and forgiveness together in a magnificent narrative full of complex believable characters who you will weep for, cheer for and long to see them step into and own their truths as we all must do.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bobbieshiann

    “A life to repay the last one, it said. You can’t keep killing them. Bear it or perish yourself”. When a book hits close to home and even when the triggers rise or the memories flash upon you, you must continue reading. Continue reading because it took my late teens to understand that the cycle that festiated my family line and the predators I know were once preyed on too. The addicts I know once looked for a savior that never came so the temporary numbness would do enough. “Truth is easy to push “A life to repay the last one, it said. You can’t keep killing them. Bear it or perish yourself”. When a book hits close to home and even when the triggers rise or the memories flash upon you, you must continue reading. Continue reading because it took my late teens to understand that the cycle that festiated my family line and the predators I know were once preyed on too. The addicts I know once looked for a savior that never came so the temporary numbness would do enough. “Truth is easy to push down, to make something else when it’s an unconfirmed, unspoken thing”. Perish by Latoya Watkins is twisted, relatable, and makes you look at your only family trauma to decide if you can further indulge some of the truth in this story that connects to you. I have shared this book with so many in conversation. To start, you may sympathize with Helen Jean, a victim of her daddy’s doing that has lead to a cycle of male rapist, sexual assault on little boy’s and girls, broken women, and the unjust of a family secret. The mental agony, eternal suffering, the lack of birth but the need to love and from each characters point of view, their side of the story makes you have to process much more. I loved this book because it hurts and though fictional, the dysfunctional and generational family ways of being has to be broken at some point. “Every living thing ….” He uses his whole body to sigh. “These bodies. They got to perish, and it’s a whole lot of mercy in that”.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Denisha of TRBG

    The trauma that bonded & broke this family… man. Be sure to read trigger warnings, this was rough but, very well written. Each character really was their own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    shan

    This wasn’t an easy read but I COULD NOT look away. PERISH follows the lives of Helen Jean, her children and grandchildren over decades of inherited and intergenerational trauma. Readers experience their confrontation with heartbreak, pain and each other when they reunite to say goodbye to the family matriarch. I appreciated the characters’ internal struggle with their trauma and vulnerabilities. It reflected what is often seen in a lot of families who don’t speak of, let alone name their ‘shame This wasn’t an easy read but I COULD NOT look away. PERISH follows the lives of Helen Jean, her children and grandchildren over decades of inherited and intergenerational trauma. Readers experience their confrontation with heartbreak, pain and each other when they reunite to say goodbye to the family matriarch. I appreciated the characters’ internal struggle with their trauma and vulnerabilities. It reflected what is often seen in a lot of families who don’t speak of, let alone name their ‘shame’. Watkins did a good job of allowing the characters to speak in their own time and allowing readers to share in those intimacies without feeling like an intrusive presence. This isn’t an easy read because it explores content that is both triggering and uncomfortable. However, it is a story that I could not look away from because I was so emotionally consumed that I felt a responsibility to the characters to see their story through. Described as “a powerful debut novel about a Black Texan family” PERISH has lived up to that expectation. It is an expression of all the ways trauma can breed brokenness and the non-linear and sometimes lengthy journey that is healing. A solid debut. Definite recommendation.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Yasmin

    Sins of the father. Generational curses. And then there was Helen Jean, the only female in her father’s house. The family’s mean-spirited, self-centered, cruel, and mentally ill matriarch. But, if you were dealt the hand Helen Jean was dealt, while you might not like her, you would understand why. She was only trying to survive in a male dominated world. She had more secrets than a lil’ bit. Secrets that were hurtful, harmful, and dangerous. Secrets that destroy families and maim them too! Perish by Lat Sins of the father. Generational curses. And then there was Helen Jean, the only female in her father’s house. The family’s mean-spirited, self-centered, cruel, and mentally ill matriarch. But, if you were dealt the hand Helen Jean was dealt, while you might not like her, you would understand why. She was only trying to survive in a male dominated world. She had more secrets than a lil’ bit. Secrets that were hurtful, harmful, and dangerous. Secrets that destroy families and maim them too! Perish by Latoya Watkins is an intriguing, thrilling read and a page turner. It was a quick read because it was a train wreck coming at full speed and while I wanted to turn away I couldn’t. Most of the characters were not likeable. While I liked nothing about Helen Jean’s father or Helen Jean’s ways, my heart went out to her. She was truly a product of her environment. The sins of her father were a generational curse for everyone who came from his blood line, including Helen Jean. There was no wonder that everyone in this family tree had a cross to bear. Horrible, unbearable environments can produce very damaged spirits and tortured souls. Highly recommend this read to others who enjoy family saga/drama with imperfect moms and dads, and siblings too.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shanice

    Perish is Latoya Watkins’ debut novel about a black family in Texas grappling with the effects of generational trauma. The story is told from multiple POVs and moves back and forth in time over the course of 60 years. As the family gathers together in Jerusalem, TX to say goodbye to their matriarch Helen Jean, they’re forced to confront the pain and dark secrets of their past. Despite the difficult subject matter in this story, I could not put this book down. If I hadn’t known that this was a deb Perish is Latoya Watkins’ debut novel about a black family in Texas grappling with the effects of generational trauma. The story is told from multiple POVs and moves back and forth in time over the course of 60 years. As the family gathers together in Jerusalem, TX to say goodbye to their matriarch Helen Jean, they’re forced to confront the pain and dark secrets of their past. Despite the difficult subject matter in this story, I could not put this book down. If I hadn’t known that this was a debut, I would have assumed this was the work of an author who’s written numerous novels. Watkins has a true talent for creating compelling characters that are believable and well-developed. Although I didn’t always agree with Helen Jean’s choices or her parenting style, I enjoyed reading her chapters the most. While faced with unimaginable adversity and abuse at the hands of a family member, she remained resilient and determined to live life on her own terms. Her internal struggle over the ongoing debate of “nature vs nurture” will undoubtedly make for a great discussion topic among book clubs. In addition to great storytelling and powerful characters, another reason I found it difficult to put this book down was due to the consistent pacing. The foreshadowing and allusions to parts of the story that hadn’t yet been revealed was done in a way that kept me wanting to know more and piqued my curiosity rather than making me feel like I was lost or left in the dark. There’s also a jaw-dropping event at the end that I didn’t expect, but served as the culmination of decades of unhealed trauma within the Turner family. I realize that the topics in this book will be uncomfortable and triggering for many, but unfortunately these experiences are reality for many families which is why I think this is a very important story. Content warnings are included below. Thank you to Tiny Reparations Books for providing me with both an ARC and finished copy of this novel. Content Warnings: incest, rape, miscarriage, abortion, suicide, drug use, mental illness

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dawnshaee Reid

    Gathering my thoughts freshly after closing book and I’m aghast. This is a gravely necessary piece of literature, however I want other readers enter it with complete caution and fully aware of triggers (child rape, child neglect, infertility and fertility, self harm, animal cruelty, suicide, mental health, mutilation, and the list goes on). This family tree will make you cry and want to uproot the entire tree then burn it down - but even then you’ll be left to wonder if it’s seeped into the land Gathering my thoughts freshly after closing book and I’m aghast. This is a gravely necessary piece of literature, however I want other readers enter it with complete caution and fully aware of triggers (child rape, child neglect, infertility and fertility, self harm, animal cruelty, suicide, mental health, mutilation, and the list goes on). This family tree will make you cry and want to uproot the entire tree then burn it down - but even then you’ll be left to wonder if it’s seeped into the land that it’s burned on to taint the next tree. As bad as I want to say Julie B. is worse than Grandmoan, it leads me down the path of pointing my finger at everyone trying to find blame. Even with Albert Pines being the “root” of it all, I’m sure if he had the space or sanity to speak he would have his fair share of reasonings/excuses/explanations, too. I cannot say I loved the book because it’s odd to describe something with a context that is so damaging and heartbreaking as lovable, but I love it in the sense of the power that it has to recognize families and trauma. Perish is gravely necessary and I mean that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Donna Edwards

    Imagine "The Bluest Eye" but times 10. Crushing, traumatic, horrible, suspenseful, beautiful, engrossing, well written. Y'all better keep an eye on LaToya Watkins and Tiny Reparations Books. Imagine "The Bluest Eye" but times 10. Crushing, traumatic, horrible, suspenseful, beautiful, engrossing, well written. Y'all better keep an eye on LaToya Watkins and Tiny Reparations Books.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kandace

    This is a wild ride! I had no clue what I was getting myself into but it definitely should come with some kind of warning. This is not a happy, feel-good title. It is very dark. Key trigger warnings include: incest, rape, suicide, drug addition Initially, it was difficult for me to follow the family tree and who belonged to who. But now that I am finished, I am almost feel as though that was done intentionally because of how the family tree truly is. Overall, this book is very well written. I was This is a wild ride! I had no clue what I was getting myself into but it definitely should come with some kind of warning. This is not a happy, feel-good title. It is very dark. Key trigger warnings include: incest, rape, suicide, drug addition Initially, it was difficult for me to follow the family tree and who belonged to who. But now that I am finished, I am almost feel as though that was done intentionally because of how the family tree truly is. Overall, this book is very well written. I wasn't sold on the story at first but as I continued I can appreciate the underlying theme of breaking generational curses. I can definitely feel the Toni Morrison influence as I was reading this.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This book is a powerfully written and insightful examination of intergenerational trauma and the many complex ways it impacts family dynamics. Perish is written from the perspective of four different family members as they reunite to say goodbye to their matriarch on her deathbed. I appreciated that each character whose perspective we heard had their truly unique voice. We got to know each of these characters from their own perspective, as well as from the vantage point of their family members. This book is a powerfully written and insightful examination of intergenerational trauma and the many complex ways it impacts family dynamics. Perish is written from the perspective of four different family members as they reunite to say goodbye to their matriarch on her deathbed. I appreciated that each character whose perspective we heard had their truly unique voice. We got to know each of these characters from their own perspective, as well as from the vantage point of their family members. This book also provided a gut-wrenching depiction how trauma can be passed down through generations of a family, and the fragmentations that occur in family relationships when it is. Perish is insightful and moving, and provides a critically important message about the effects of intergenerational trauma. That said, I do have to note that it was a book that I struggled to get through due to the emotionally heavy content. I do believe that this book come with several content warnings for violence and sexual assault. There are a few additional notes, though it is not possible to provide these without spoilers. I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maddy Newquist

    Incredibly dark and difficult read, but compelling and moving, and an insightful look at intergenerational trauma. It is hard to summarize, but it revolves around four generations of a Black Texan family, who have gathered to say goodbye to their matriarch. Everyone in the family is suffering, but not all of them know why, or they know parts of the puzzle, and it all must come out before any of them can move forward. Watkins's control of her characters' POVs and distinct voices, thought processes Incredibly dark and difficult read, but compelling and moving, and an insightful look at intergenerational trauma. It is hard to summarize, but it revolves around four generations of a Black Texan family, who have gathered to say goodbye to their matriarch. Everyone in the family is suffering, but not all of them know why, or they know parts of the puzzle, and it all must come out before any of them can move forward. Watkins's control of her characters' POVs and distinct voices, thought processes, and decisions is remarkable. The atmosphere is claustrophobic, and the pace is notably fast for a story that unfurls partly in memories. There was a point at which the number of instances of violence began to reach a count that felt almost unbelievable even for a work that stretches across many decades (more below), but there is a feeling of bearing witness that makes the reader want to see the story through to its end. For readers of literary fiction, complex family stories, stories of intergeneration trauma; and for readers interested in character-driven stories with a strong sense of place and atmosphere. I think Watkins will garner a loyal readership instantaneously; I am already looking forward to what she will write next. *vague spoilers due to content warnings* While I can see myself doing readers' advisory for this title, I could not in good faith recommend it without urging potential readers to consult trigger warnings from reviews - this book contains over half a dozen implied or explicit scenes of rape, all of which involve a victim who is a minor (most are pre-pubescent) and nearly all of which involve incest. I struggled to get through this book because of these; because these events are central to the story and could be considered spoilers, there is nothing in the copy that suggests even one instance, let alone multiple. Many readers pick something up based on the copy, and so here they may find themselves blindsided by the devastating violence throughout. While there was no content warning in the ARC, I do hope the publisher includes one in the final printed edition. Many thanks to Tiny Reparations and NetGalley for the advance copy. [Read for MBC committee.]

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    4.5 Stars I received this book for free via Goodreads Giveaways. Not for the faint of heart, this powerful book examines the effects of trauma as it ripples through the generations of a family, tackling complex issues without holding back. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachelle

    Perish is a sometimes brutal but ultimately hopeful look at a multigenerational Black Texas family that's been plagued by trauma, and their attempt to make a better life for their children than they had themselves. This is not an easy book to read. But it is powerful. Watkins writes about a family that was not taught to love, that chose to hide their secrets and never speak about them. And the violence perpetuated against one member of the family is repeated in subsequent generations, as the mothe Perish is a sometimes brutal but ultimately hopeful look at a multigenerational Black Texas family that's been plagued by trauma, and their attempt to make a better life for their children than they had themselves. This is not an easy book to read. But it is powerful. Watkins writes about a family that was not taught to love, that chose to hide their secrets and never speak about them. And the violence perpetuated against one member of the family is repeated in subsequent generations, as the mothers try to protect their children but ultimately fail due to their desire to bury and ignore the past. When their grandmother is dying, her children and grandchildren come together once again and are forced to reckon with their collective pasts. The characters are complex, even the ones I had a hard time feeling sympathetic towards. They're trying to survive as best they can with the tools they've been given, in a world where they are often powerless. And ultimately, it's a book about healing, love and change. It ends with hope for the future, which for me, is so important in a book like this. While there were passages that were difficult to read, I couldn't stop because I needed to know both what had happened in the past to shape this family and what would happen in their future. Thank you to Scribner and Tiny Reparations for my copy of the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Boyle

    I'll preface this review by saying, this book is not for everyone. It is not an easy read. It is not a light read. It is heavy, and at times, highly disturbing. Please read the content warnings before going into this one. It is also probably the best fictional depiction of generational trauma I have ever read. Childhood trauma runs deep and effects every single part of a person's being. Their actions, their beliefs. Watkins does a phenomenal job with showing how passing on this hurt is inevitable I'll preface this review by saying, this book is not for everyone. It is not an easy read. It is not a light read. It is heavy, and at times, highly disturbing. Please read the content warnings before going into this one. It is also probably the best fictional depiction of generational trauma I have ever read. Childhood trauma runs deep and effects every single part of a person's being. Their actions, their beliefs. Watkins does a phenomenal job with showing how passing on this hurt is inevitable without serious intention on the part of traumatized individuals. The depiction of the push and pull among family members - between love and hate, sympathy and disgust - is expertly done. There is hope in this one, though at times I was seriously doubting that there would or even could be. Stopping this painful cycle takes vulnerability and courage, and thankfully some of the characters are able to see a better future for themselves and the ones they love. At the beginning, I had a hard time keeping the characters straight, and I found the family tree incredibly helpful. I referenced it often. The characters are so vividly drawn that it was difficult to put this down, even during the most horrific parts. They are both monsters and real, living human beings. If you feel like you can't handle this type of content, please still keep an eye out for this author. This is her debut and I will definitely be interested in her next book. Her writing is beautiful. Big CWs to be aware of: rape, child abuse, pedophilia, suicide, incest, addiction, miscarriage, abortion

  18. 5 out of 5

    Monica B

    This is fiction but it’s one of the realest book I have ever read. Deep and unfortunately unspoken issues in many families. Hurt people definitely hurt people.Excellent read

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angela M. Artis

    This book was extremely well written, but broke my heart. It speaks of a Black family, from Jerusalem, Texas, that allows generational curses to continue to manifest. It explores the effects of inherited trauma & intragenerational violence as the family comes together to say goodbye to Helen Jean — the matriarch of the Turner family — on her deathbed.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Noah

    Unrelentingly miserable

  21. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This book is soooo brutal. Main theme is hurt people, hurt people. And it is generational. Very hard book to read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    A heartbreaking novel about family and the difficulty of breaking the cycle of abuse. This book was almost excruciating to read but at the same time so compelling I couldn't put it down. A heartbreaking novel about family and the difficulty of breaking the cycle of abuse. This book was almost excruciating to read but at the same time so compelling I couldn't put it down.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heather Frame

    The things we don’t talk about are often the things that hurt the most. This book dives into secrets and the ways those secrets impact how we raise our children as well as the assumptions we make when secrets stay hidden. It also addresses the internal conflicts we experience. For example, how do we forgive someone while still being mad about their actions? Can we feel sorry for someone who hurts us or those we love? I was impressed with the ability of the writer to capture so many emotions and i The things we don’t talk about are often the things that hurt the most. This book dives into secrets and the ways those secrets impact how we raise our children as well as the assumptions we make when secrets stay hidden. It also addresses the internal conflicts we experience. For example, how do we forgive someone while still being mad about their actions? Can we feel sorry for someone who hurts us or those we love? I was impressed with the ability of the writer to capture so many emotions and intertwine the perspectives of each generation so seamlessly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    3.5 stars Brutal, difficult but compelling read. This centers around a dying matriarch and how her decisions effect future generations. Generational trauma and violence take it's toll on members of the family as they go and say goodbye to her. Flashing back via multiple points of view, the story and secrets begin to emerge, culminating into a shocking scene, hoping to break the pattern. For readers of Jesmyn Ward, Yaa Gyasi, and Margaret Wilkerson Sexton. I received an arc from the publisher but a 3.5 stars Brutal, difficult but compelling read. This centers around a dying matriarch and how her decisions effect future generations. Generational trauma and violence take it's toll on members of the family as they go and say goodbye to her. Flashing back via multiple points of view, the story and secrets begin to emerge, culminating into a shocking scene, hoping to break the pattern. For readers of Jesmyn Ward, Yaa Gyasi, and Margaret Wilkerson Sexton. I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Shank

    FICTION: In this searing debut novel, a Texas family addresses its darkest secrets as its matriarch lies dying. By Jenny Shank Special to the Star Tribune, AUGUST 19, 2022 — 7:45AM LaToya Watkins' searing debut novel, "Perish," begins when a teenage Helen Jean discovers that the dose of turpentine she'd taken to end prior pregnancies resulting from her father raping her wasn't going to work this time. It's 1955 in Jerusalem, Texas, and Helen Jean, who is growing up impoverished and alone since her FICTION: In this searing debut novel, a Texas family addresses its darkest secrets as its matriarch lies dying. By Jenny Shank Special to the Star Tribune, AUGUST 19, 2022 — 7:45AM LaToya Watkins' searing debut novel, "Perish," begins when a teenage Helen Jean discovers that the dose of turpentine she'd taken to end prior pregnancies resulting from her father raping her wasn't going to work this time. It's 1955 in Jerusalem, Texas, and Helen Jean, who is growing up impoverished and alone since her mother died, has few options but to marry Jessie B., a mysterious bachelor about a decade older than she is who tells her he noticed "you need some protecting." Jessie B. keeps his promise to treat Wayne, the child Helen Jean has soon after they marry, as his own, but given Wayne's origins, Helen Jean cannot love him and she raises him with chill remove. Wayne in turn becomes a broken, vulnerable target for abuse as incest perpetuates throughout generations of the Turner family. Watkins elucidates the complex fallout from Wayne's birth by moving back and forth through time and introducing the perspectives of other family members, including two grandchildren, January and Lydia, who are drawn back to Jerusalem to visit elderly Helen Jean on her deathbed. January is a Bible-focused mother who dreams of attending college and forging a better life, but she's hampered by lack of resources and panicked hypervigilance caused by childhood trauma. Watkins deftly captures the fresh cadence of January's voice, as in this passage that shows the determination with which she faces every task: "I make my bed every morning soon as I get up. Soon as I climb out, I turn around and fix my mess. And I make it perfect, too, like something in a department store that ain't never posed to be slept in." January's cousin Lydia escaped sexual abuse, but not the sick dynamics of the Turner family. After suffering a few miscarriages, she realizes she doesn't want a child. This puts her marriage on shaky ground, in part because she cannot bear to reveal the dark secrets of her family. She's haunted by the pronouncement of a palm reader she once visited: "The fruit of your womenfolk is tarnished. Nothing gone live outside yours. Nothing ever should." As Watkins details the violation of the children in this family, shows the reverberating impact these acts have, and makes the reader empathize with each authentic, distinctive character, "Perish" can be a stomach-churning read. It's a raw but necessary book, depicting the consequences of forcing a teenager to give birth to her father's child, a situation current law could now make more prevalent. Incest in the United States is astonishingly common, with studies estimating that one in four girls and one in six boys will suffer abuse before age 18, with the majority of perpetrators being family members. With "Perish," Watkins has shaken off the shame of the ultimate taboo and brought it to light through the story of the unforgettable women who bear its burden. This novel will serve as a hand extended through the darkness to a great many of its readers. Jenny Shank's story collection, "Mixed Company," won the Colorado Book Award and the George Garrett Fiction Prize and her novel, "The Ringer," won the High Plains Book Award.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dominique A

    Perish is a multi generational story about a family in Texas plagued by generational trauma and abuse. The story begins with news of the matriarch Helen Jean near death. She is the ultimate keeper of secrets and was willing to take them to her deathbed. Her story began with a late night plea made in an outhouse for the turpentine she drank to cause her to abort her seed conceived of rape. She was told to bear the child or perish. The birth of that child created deep rooted trauma and hate in he Perish is a multi generational story about a family in Texas plagued by generational trauma and abuse. The story begins with news of the matriarch Helen Jean near death. She is the ultimate keeper of secrets and was willing to take them to her deathbed. Her story began with a late night plea made in an outhouse for the turpentine she drank to cause her to abort her seed conceived of rape. She was told to bear the child or perish. The birth of that child created deep rooted trauma and hate in her heart. The hate would poison the roots of her family tree. She passed the trauma to her children and her grandchildren. The sins of the previous generations affecting the next one, with everyone keeping the family's secrets at great personal costs. When family reunites secrets are revealed and it is revealed who is to blame for the pain in this family. This story is gut wrenching trauma. I deeply cared for some of these characters. The multiple POV reveals while everyone knows some secrets, no one knows all of them. A trigger warning is one of the POVs is that of an abuser. His story does not try to garner sympathy as much as show how hurt people hurt people. Most of the POVs are the women in the family who had different but equally traumatic experiences. As the story unfolds it reveals shocking secret after secret. When secrets are revealed will this heal the family or destroy it beyond repair?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristi Naretto

    This book is incredible. The subject matter is uncomfortable and heartbreaking. The story, however, is profound and inspiring. Because of the content, it feels untrue to say that I "loved" this book. I think it would be most accurate to say that I respect the experiences of the characters and it left an impression that I will not soon forget. There are few books that leave me silently mouthing "wow" as I close them. This is one of those books. Perish tells the story of Helen Jean, the matriarch o This book is incredible. The subject matter is uncomfortable and heartbreaking. The story, however, is profound and inspiring. Because of the content, it feels untrue to say that I "loved" this book. I think it would be most accurate to say that I respect the experiences of the characters and it left an impression that I will not soon forget. There are few books that leave me silently mouthing "wow" as I close them. This is one of those books. Perish tells the story of Helen Jean, the matriarch of the Turner family. It explores how her choices and actions have consequences that reach far beyond her and how her trauma is experienced by her children and grandchildren. The story is told through four alternating viewpoints. The reader learns the story through Julie B., Helen Jean's daughter, Alex, Julie B.'s son, Jan, Julie B.'s daughter, and Lydia, the daughter of Julie B.'s sister, Ruby Nell. As each of these characters share the way the trauma Helen Jean carries has affected them. Each character has their own private pain, shame, and guilt that colors how they interact with each other and cope with their own experiences. I don't think that anyone who reads this book will walk away unchanged. It's a story about pain, grief, healing, love, and family. It left me thinking long and hard about the secrets we keep and how in our desire to protect ourselves and those we love, we can do immeasurable damage. ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 Thank you for the gifted finished copy @penguinrandomhouse @tinyrepbooks and @drlwatkins and Goodreads. ⚠️Check the trigger warnings before jumping into this one⚠️

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    In simple terms, the book is about a Balck Texan family with problems that they are trying to push through because, as difficult as it seems, they really do love each other. They are trying to learn how to do that in healthy ways. It explores the effects of inherited trauma and intergenerational violence as the family says goodbye to their grandmother - Helen Jean - on her deathbed. The story shows us her life and the mistakes she made that have had a ripple effect on her family. This book is tol In simple terms, the book is about a Balck Texan family with problems that they are trying to push through because, as difficult as it seems, they really do love each other. They are trying to learn how to do that in healthy ways. It explores the effects of inherited trauma and intergenerational violence as the family says goodbye to their grandmother - Helen Jean - on her deathbed. The story shows us her life and the mistakes she made that have had a ripple effect on her family. This book is told from four characters' POVs - Jean, Alex, Jan, and Lydia. The book starts with Helen Jean and goes back in time to the 1950s, and then it goes through a topic in the news now - abortion, the rules, and the fallout. There are so many secrets in the family, and it's heartbreaking how they impact each other, but in the end, it's a hopeful story about healing and forgiveness. It's also about family and grief when we lose those important people who have kept us together. To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://www.momsdonthavetimetoreadboo...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    In Perish Latoya Watkins tells the story of the family that was born from Helen Jean Turner (Grandmoan), a family that struggles with all manner of pain. Watkins has distinguished herself by the compassionate yet unflinching portrayal of these characters. As we hear from four family members rotating through the book we learn what the family has endured and how the past keeps repeating. This stunning debut of a multigenerational family is bound with love but they are also bound with pain and repr In Perish Latoya Watkins tells the story of the family that was born from Helen Jean Turner (Grandmoan), a family that struggles with all manner of pain. Watkins has distinguished herself by the compassionate yet unflinching portrayal of these characters. As we hear from four family members rotating through the book we learn what the family has endured and how the past keeps repeating. This stunning debut of a multigenerational family is bound with love but they are also bound with pain and repressed memories. Starting with an unwanted pregnancy and ending with with a tragic gunshot, this is an unforgettable novel.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Aundra

    This family’s “reunion” unearths long-kept secrets and forces each member to ask themselves important questions about who is deserving of forgiveness and who bears the cross of blame. Set in vividly drawn Texas and tackling themes like trauma, legacy, faith, home, class, race, and more, this beautiful yet heart heart-wrenching novel will appeal to anyone who is interested in the intricacies of family This book needs a trauma label across the front and in the middle and on the back trauma filled. This family’s “reunion” unearths long-kept secrets and forces each member to ask themselves important questions about who is deserving of forgiveness and who bears the cross of blame. Set in vividly drawn Texas and tackling themes like trauma, legacy, faith, home, class, race, and more, this beautiful yet heart heart-wrenching novel will appeal to anyone who is interested in the intricacies of family This book needs a trauma label across the front and in the middle and on the back trauma filled. The beginning is a bit muddled with all of the chapters switching back-and-forth it’s a little hard to keep track of who’s who. Because there’s so many different names being mentioned throughout the chapters and you almost need a flow chart to remember who is talking and their back story. As you make your way through the chapters you finally get a sense of what’s happening and put the story together but you are nowhere ready for where this book is going to end it’s going to leave you questioning everything and not really give you any answers.

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