I was perusing a website when by I came upon Eldonna Edwards’ book This I Know, and while the book had been archived and was no longer available for reading and reviewing, the excerpt was available for reading and sharing on FB and Twitter. I began reading the excerpt but got only as far as, “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.” I stopped reading, knowing I must read this book. I logged out of the website I was on and logged into Amazon and purchased the book. As an Amazon Prime member, I knew I would have the book in two days; nevertheless, I remained impatient until the book arrived.
Eldonna Edwards is the author of the best-selling memoir Lost in Transplantation, her story of giving one of her kidneys to a stranger. This I Know, Edwards’ debut historical and literary fiction novel released in April of this year (2018).
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 realized this as a child. I never understood how I knew 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.’
Grace reminded me of Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird in her grown-up narration of This I Know, and to the skeptics out there that may be skeptical of an eleven-year-olds ability to narrate a tale with the intellect and creative power as Grace does in This I Know. Let me be clear on this point, we have all known people like Grace who is not your ordinary eleven-year-old. It is unmistakable from the beginning of Ewards’ book set in a small Midwestern town in the late 1960s that Grace was born with the wit of a seasoned comedian, a heart full of love, trust and belief in others, and an old soul. But that’s not all she was born with, Grace was born with the ‘Knowing’ which remained the antipathy between Grace’s stern Evangelical pastor 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 people’s pasts, futures, her ability to talk to her dead twin brother Issak, encapsulate her mother’s suffering and much more.
Grace was a twin, her brother Issak, the only would be son died during birth and with his death, life changed for the entire family. Issak’s death was expressly cataclysmic on Grace, her father whom Grace believed blamed her for Issak’s death, and Grace’s mother. Grace has a younger sister, Chasity, and two older sisters Joy Ann and Hope. All named by their Evangelical pastor 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.” 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 an all-inclusive tale of sadness, happiness, loss, freedom, life, love, laughter, and beauty. It’s life as we know it. Anyone living in the late 1960s may see parts of their own lives in Eldonna Edwards’ inspiring and captivating novel. This I Know is a winner, and Eldonna Edwards is a winner when it comes to writing and crafting such a heartfelt and ingenious story.
I would not be giving This I Know the applaud it deserves without speaking to the humor that’s masterfully intermixed with sadness and the rest of life. 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 book 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 to keep reading). And there was a part of myself that self-identified with Grace’s humorous side. She kept me laughing to the point that I would seek someone out to listen to me read aloud from This I Know to share some of the funny parts so I wouldn’t be laughing alone. The following are a few of Grace’s comments that set me to laughing:
“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’ve finished reading the book. This I Know is one of those rare books. It’s a must-read, and I strongly recommend This I Know 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.
I would be remiss if I did not tell you that while This I Know was released in April of this year, the book is already a Delilah Book Club Selection. Eldonna 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.
To make it easier for you to find This I Know, I am providing the following links:
To learn more about Eldonna Edwards visit her website:
Have you bought This I Know yet? Don’t wait, buy Edwards’ book now, you will gulp the book down just as I did.