Call Your Daughter Home

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A stunning tour de force following three fierce, unforgettable Southern women in the years leading up to the Great Depression

It’s 1924 South Carolina and the region is still recovering from the infamous boll weevil infestation that devastated the land and the economy. Gertrude, a mother of four, must make an unconscionable decision to save her daughters from starvation or die at the hands of an abusive husband. Retta is navigating a harsh world as a first-generation freed slave, still employed by the Coles, influential plantation proprietors who once owned her family. Annie is the matriarch of the Coles family and must come to terms with the terrible truth that has torn her family apart.

These three women seemingly have nothing in common, yet as they unite to stand up to the terrible injustices that have long plagued the small town, they find strength in the bond that ties women together. Told in the pitch-perfect voices of Gertrude, Retta and Annie, Call Your Daughter Home is an audacious, timeless story about the power of family, deep-buried secrets and the ferocity of motherhood.


“vibrant, polyphonic first novel”—O Magazine

“full-of-heart debut novel.”—Garden & Gun

“Told in rotating narratives, Deb Spera, in her debut novel, creates a mesmerizing story of motherhood and womanhood.”Deep South

“a slow burn but worth a thoughtful read.”—

"Call Your Daughter Home succeeds in painting an atmospheric portrait of the pre-Depression South."—

“The first-person narration alternates among the three main characters, and Spera deftly creates distinctive voices for each one. The novel is rich with details about the hard physical work and emotional resilience demanded of women in the rural South almost a hundred years ago…Spera’s sure-footed depictions of women’s friendships and mother-daughter relationships are the book’s strengths.”—Kirkus

“The complicated mother-daughter relationships make this an eye-opening, thoroughly engaging look at life in the South a century ago…Richly rendered and engrossing, Spera's debut is a powerful look at the lives of women in the early twentieth-century Deep South.” —Booklist

“engrossing debut novel is a rich and evocative tale that examines early 20th-century rural southern culture through the lens of early 21st-century reactionary feminism.”—

“A mesmerizing Southern tale, Call Your Daughter Home follows three women intertwined in struggle, unlikely friendship, and ultimately, redemption. Authentic, gripping, a page-turner, yet also a novel filled with language that begs to be savored. This book kept me up late and stayed with me long after I closed the final page.—Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

 “Deb Spera is a master of voice, a master of deep-diving access to the roiling depths of human identity. These three women, in their fierce struggle for values and self, speak to those struggles in all of us, men and women both. Call Your Daughter Home is an exhilarating and important book.” —Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

“Call Your Daughter Home is a stunning and welcome addition to Southern Literature.  Set in South Carolina during the 20s, it tells a powerful story of women, family, class, and race.” —Chris Offutt, Author of Country Dark 

“Deb Spera is an amazing talent, and a powerful female voice. She channels the women in this gripping novel — Gertrude, Oretta, and Annie — like someone who has lived inside them. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.” —Mark Bowden, New York Times and International bestselling author of Black Hawk Down

“A ferociously moving story of motherhood and justice, relayed through a trio of radiantly unforgettable voices. Deb Spera is a conjurer of the first rank." —Jonathan Miles, New York Times bestselling author of Dear American Airlines and Want Not

“Call Your Daughter Home is a bold and mesmerizing debut set in a time and place lost to history; a world rescued now by Deb Spera, a talented storyteller. With lush language, Spera illuminates a powerful story of women, of motherhood and survival." —Natashia Deón, Author of Grace

“We think Call Your Daughter Home will become a new Southern classic. It is a beautifully written story of three women whose lives intersect in a South Carolina town in the 1920s. Though they have totally different backgrounds—a poor white woman, a black woman, a plantation owner’s wife—these women are more alike than they are different as they fight misogyny, poverty, and racism, and try to save their families and those they love.”—Jill McFarlane Hendrix, owner, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C.

"Fans of Mudbound and The Secret Life of Bees are going to embrace Call Your Daughter Home."—Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books

"From the moment I was crouching alongside Gertrude in the heat of an alligator infested swamp, I was hooked by her story, just as I would be upon being introduced to the other two main narrators - big hearted Retta still mourning the death of her little girl, and Annie, isolated by her tyrannical wealthy husband. Together, they tell of their rural lives in a southern town, just after the Civil War, where race and gender are a mighty burden, and where women, despite their station or class, reach out to nurture, keep vigil, and rescue one another. This is a very fine novel with great depth, terrific writing and characters whose faces I will never forget."—Nancy Scheemaker, Northshire Books

"Sit back and enjoy. This southern novel of family, secrets, and redemption should be at the top of your reading stack. Gertrude, Annie, and Retta narrate this absorbing tale set among the secrets of a small town. These women are fierce. They are ready to sacrifice all for their families."—Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop