In the small township of Bledsoe, Mississippi, sits Singer’s Trailer Park, a collection of trailers, campers and sometimes tents. Inside Singer’s lives a clever young girl named Solemn Redvine, whose family prefers to keep their distance from their neighbors—with the exception of Solemn’s father, whose occasional wanderings lead Solemn to believe the infant child of a couple down the way may be her half-sibling.
When Solemn witnesses a shocking event late one night in Singer’s, she struggles to reclaim the sense of innocence she felt before and find her balance. As more changes happen to Solemn’s family dynamic and within the community, she wonders who she will become as her life develops among such turmoil. She longs to leave Singer’s, where she feels trapped by her connection to a crime she saw and can’t forget. When Solemn’s father’s latest mistake leads to her removal from her parents’ custody, Solemn gets the escape she has been looking for, albeit under less-than-perfect circumstances. But she finds herself facing the same questions about her identity. There might not be an easy way to grow up.
Kalisha Buckhanon has presented realistic portraits of modern African-American life in her previous novels, Upstate and Conception. With Solemn, she has created an emotional and expressive novel about family, obligation and community. This twisting, expressive coming-of-age story not only offers readers a young girl’s experience of seeking her place in the world, but also illustrates the struggle of life in the rural South.