This I Know: A Novel
Author: Eldonna Edwards
Publisher: Kensington Press Books
Publication Date (Paperback): 04.30.2019
Genre: Literature & Fiction > Literary > Coming of Age > Historical
Page Count: 320 Pages
Review: 5 STARS
I was perusing a website when I came upon Eldonna Edwards’ book. This I Know, and while the book had been archived and was no longer available for reading and reviewing on NetGalley, the excerpt was available for reading and sharing on FB and Twitter. I began reading the excerpt and got no further than:
“If you asked when I first realized I had the Knowing, I wouldn’t be able to say. It started like a seed and then grew bit by bit, just slow enough not to notice. I guess I was born with it. Maybe it was just supposed to be a regular amount of intuition.” This I Know
I stopped reading, knowing I must read this book. I logged into Amazon and purchased the book. As an Amazon Prime member, I knew I would have the book in two days; nevertheless, it was the longest two-day wait of my life.
Eldonna Edwards is the author of the best-selling memoir Lost in Transplantation, the story of Edwards selflessly fighting the challenges to give one of her kidneys to a stranger. Lost in Transplantation went on to become a documentary titled Perfect Strangers. This I Know, Edwards’ debut historical, coming of age literary fiction novel was published 04.24.2018 in hardcover, audio CD, Audiobook and Kindle. The paperback version of This I know will be available for purchase on 04.30.2019 and is available for pre-order now.
I felt an affinity to This I Know as I grew-up telling those who would listen to me, “I know things that other’s don’t know.” And I did. I was naturally intuitive or ‘Knowing.’ I came to realize this as a child. I never understood how I knew the things I shouldn’t have known, but I knew. However, I never had the ‘Knowing’ to the extent that Grace Marie, the eleven-year-old protagonist in This I Know had the ‘Knowing.’ Her intuition or clairvoyance, whichever you are more comfortable with was more finely tuned than mine. But like Grace Marie, I still knew things, and this drew me to young Grace from the beginning of This I Know.
Grace was also feisty, another shared commonality when I was her age, and there were parts of her that reminded me of Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird in her grown-up (for her age) narration of This I Know. And to the skeptics out there that refuse to believe an eleven-year-old can narrate a tale with the intellect and creative prose as Grace does in This I Know, let me be clear, we have all known people like Grace who is not your ordinary eleven-year-old; this is evident from the beginning of Edwards’ book.
Grace was born with the wit of a seasoned comedian, a heart full of love, trust and belief in others, and an old soul in a small Midwestern town in the late 1960s. But that’s not all she was born with, Grace was born with the ‘Knowing’ which remained the antipathy between Grace’s stern Evangelical father who sees Grace’s gift as evil throughout the novel. Grace’s ‘Knowing’ as she refers to it is a deep-rooted intuition that allows her to see into people’s pasts and futures, and her ability to talk to her dead twin brother Issac, while also perceiving her mother’s suffering and so much more.
Grace was born a twin, her brother Issac, the only would be son died during birth and with his death, life changed for the entire family. Issac’s death was expressly cataclysmic on Grace, as her father whom Grace believed blamed her for Issak’s death, as well as Grace’s mother’s suffering. Grace has a younger sister, Chastity, and two older sisters Joy Ann and Hope. All named by their Evangelical father.
The first time Grace Marie experienced her ‘Knowing,’ she was five years old sitting at the breakfast table eating pancakes with her family when she said:
“Somebody should get that boy out of the lake.” When she looked at the bottle of syrup on the table, Grace saw a boy struggling, then sink to the bottom of the lake. When she saw him sink, she said, “Too late.” – This I Know
Moments later an ambulance, went screaming past their home on the way to the lake.
While This I Know can be unfairly construed as gloom and doom until you read it for yourself, the story is one of sadness, happiness, loss, freedom, life, love, laughter, and beauty. It’s life as we know it, or have known it ourselves. Anyone living in the late 1960s may very well see parts of their own lives in Eldonna Edwards’ inspiring and captivating novel. This I Know is a winner, and Eldonna Edwards is stunningly talented when it comes to wordsmithing and crafting heartfelt and inventive stories.
I would not be giving This I Know the applaud it deserves without speaking to the humor that’s cleverly interwoven with sadness and the rest of life as Grace tells her story. Once I opened the book, I couldn’t put the book down until I had read the last page, and at that point, I felt regret for reading the book as quickly as I did. I read the novel under the covers at night with a book light, on the way to dinner, or when others were speaking to me. Granted this I will admit was rude, but I couldn’t help myself; I had been pulled into Grace Marie’s life, and I wanted to remain there as long as there were pages left to read. And because there was a part of myself that self-identified with Grace’s humorous side as well as her intuitive self. She kept me laughing to the point that I would look for someone just to listen to me read aloud from This I Know to share Grace Marie’s humor so I wouldn’t be laughing alone. The following are a few of Grace’s comments that had me laughing out loud, not just snickering to myself.
“Daddy says dancing and rock and roll lead to fornication, which means sex. Seems to me like it would be hard to make a baby when you’re dancing.”
“Later that night as I lay in bed I rested my hand over my heart to see if it felt any different. I knew there was supposed to be three guys in there: God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. The third one scared me, so I pictured him like Casper the Friendly Ghost. Casper reminds me of myself, wanting to be friends but scaring people away. Anyway, it didn’t feel one bit different. I thought I’d feel like a new person, but I just felt like plain old Grace.”
“Daddy’s talking about idols and graven images, but all I hear is blah, blah, blah.”
And this is only page thirty-one of three hundred and ninety-nine pages. It’s rare that a book comes along that I get irritated if life gets in the way of my reading, and I have to put the book down before I’m ready to put the book down. This I Know is one of those rare books. It’s a must-read, and I give it my strongest recommendation to those who love to read, regardless of your genre preference, as well as to those who don’t read as I am confident this book will turn you into a reader.
This I Know was released in April of 2018, the book is already a Delilah Book Club Selection. Edwards has also included a reading group guide at the end of her novel that is useful for book clubs and required reading in schools, which I believe in my heart will ultimately make it into the education system’s required reading, particularly for English majors.
Have you ordered your copy of This I Know yet? Don’t wait, buy Edwards’ book today, you will gulp the book down just as I did, and will want to read it again.