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"Lavina is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Mary Marcus gives distinctive voice to three engaging characters, bringing our compassion and sympathy to each of them as she deftly unravels their complex story of heartache, courage, and love."
– Diane Chamberlain, international bestselling author of Necessary Lies
"Lavina is a richly nuanced journey to Louisiana during the civil rights era and contemporary times that encompasses the liberating but pain-filled emergence of R&B and rock and roll. Mary Marcus has a mystical insight into the agony and ecstasy of the creative process and the lives of performers. She also unflinchingly brings alive the insane disparity of lives of rich and poor, and black and white, and sees both the pain, the cruelty and also the love and richness of the South."
– Danny Goldberg, author of Bumping into Geniuses
“Lavina is a taut simmering and thoroughly southern work of art. Prepare to lose yourself in this thrilling novel, beautifully crafted by the awesomely talented Ms. Marcus.”
– Robert Tate Miller, author of Forever Christmas
"Mary Marcus' Lavina is a sprawling, passionate Southern Gothic nightmare which beautifully depicts the transformative power of musical creation. Billy Ray jumps from the page as a living, breathing embodiment of Louisiana's Black roots music."
– Blake Leyh, Emmy Award-winning music supervisor of The Wire and Treme
Mary Jacob grew up as an anomaly. A child of Louisiana in the early sixties, she found little in common with most of the people in her community and in her household, and her best friend was Lavina, the black woman who cooked and cleaned for her family.
Billy Ray had an incredible gift he kept to himself. Alone except for his mother Lavina in the racially segregated and tense early ’60s, Billy Ray constantly dreamed up ways he could get his mother out of the big white house where she cooked and cleaned. Especially away from the white girl who he imagined his mother loved more than she loved him.
Mary Jacob escaped her history and established a fresh, if imperfect, life for herself in New York. Billy Ray chased fame, and came up a broken musician grasping for small gigs. When both are called back to their hometown, Mary Jacob and Billy Ray discover truths about the past they’ve spent a lifetime forgetting – about the lives they left behind, and about a fateful day three decades earlier when three lives changed forever.
A generation-spanning story both intimate and enormous in scope, LAVINA is a novel rich in humanity, sharp in its indictments, and stunning in its resolution.