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Number of Pages: 304
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2007
|Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.63 (inches)|
Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins is a 78-year-old sweetgrass basket weaver who sits on the side of Hwy. 17 in the company of her dead husband, Daddy Jim. Inspired by her Auntie Leona, Essie Mae finally discovers her calling in life and weaves powerful "love baskets," praying fervently over them to affect the lives of those who visit her roadside stand. When she's faced with losing her home and her stand and being put in a nursing home, Daddy Jim talks her into coming on up to Heaven to meet sweet Jesus-something she's always wanted to do. Once there, she reunites with Gullahs and African ancestors; but soon, her heavenly peace is disrupted, for she still has work to do. Now Essie Mae, who once felt powerless and invisible, must find the strength within her to keep her South Carolina family from falling apart.
Sandra Dodd5 Stars Out Of 5October 19, 2007Sandra DoddThe presentation and plot are very good. Our book club had a lively discussion! Ms.Seitz sets a stage for deep Scripture searches and growth for the novice and old timer as well.Very good read.
Michelle SuttonArizonaAge: 45-54Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5September 10, 2007Michelle SuttonArizonaAge: 45-54Gender: femaleWell here is another book that makes me go hmmmm... because it's supposed to be a Christian book yet there is so much contained in this story that is simply not biblical. However, the fictionalized character of Essie Mae is a delight to read. I think it's important to note that what the above description from the publisher doesn't mention is that the love baskets that Essie Mae "powerfully prays over" also has voodoo rituals attached, only she calls it hoodoo. Essie would weave the hair of people into the basket in hopes of matchmaking. And in this story the hoodoo techniques always worked.While I found some of her thoughts hilarious and her culture entertaining, this story contained quite a few weird theological moments...like when Essie thought they needed to help Jesus out when they were in heaven, and some of the things they did in heaven were "way out there". But this is a fictional story. So if you don't take it seriously and read it for mere entertainment you will enjoy the book. I'd love to believe that I will look young, beautiful, and get to make love to my husband in heaven, too, but that simply isn't so. And I found it odd that her voodoo practicing aunt was in heaven along with some other folks that practiced similar things. Like somehow that was irrelevant to their faith in Jesus? Hmmmm...I dunno.The writing and characterization of the story was excellent, however, and I commend the author for her creativity and ability to engage the reader, but I don't think it should've been marketed as Christian fiction by a Christian publisher. But I'm only one opinion. If you can get past the warped theology and you are seeking a book that is compulsively readable, you'll like this story.
Harriet Klausner5 Stars Out Of 5December 21, 2006Harriet KlausnerSouth Carolina septuagenarian Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins sits by the side of rural Highway 17 as she has for decades making sweetgrass love baskets. The weaver insists to those who worry about her that she is not alone as husband Daddy Jim sits by her side though he died years ago. Essie Mae believes her "love baskets" helps those who buy them from her roadside stand though she takes no chances as she adds prayers for those in need just as her beloved Auntie Leona taught her decades ago.Now her loved ones want to place the seventy-eight year old weaver into a home. Daddy Jim tells her to join him in Heaven where Jesus awaits her coming. She does, but besides her beloved spouse and the Sonof God, she meets her recently deceased African-American relatives and ancestors from Africa making her feel complete and at home. However, back on earth her descendents are in trouble needing Essie Mae to return to give them the strength to come together.This deep character study will provide inspiration to readers as Essie Mae deals with mortality, deaths of loved ones, sacrifice, the radical changing of her world, and coming to heaven. She keeps the story line flowing on earth and in heaven as fans will be fascinated with how the sweetgrass basket weaver puts love into her work. Though local dialect adds a sense of locale and to a degree purpose, it also adds some difficulty to the read. Still this is a magnificent profound look at a person who has an inner strength few contain.Harriet Klausner
Author: Nicole Seitz
Located in: Mount Pleasant, SC
Submitted: October 06, 2006
Tell us a little about yourself. From my publisher:
NICOLE SEITZ is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and freelance writer/illustrator published in SouthCarolina Magazine, Charleston Magazine, House Calls, The Island Packet and The Bluffton Packet. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole is an exhibiting artist in the Charleston, South Carolina area where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children.
FROM ME: When I'm not painting or writing I'm taking care of my two small children. And I'm blessed to live with my best friend who also happens to be my husband. At this stage in life, making art and raising our family is #1 for me. I'm also a sushi-lover (and ethnic foods in general), and I like to relax by reading someone else's hard work--fiction mostly.
What was your motivation behind this project? The motivation behind writing The Spirit of Sweetgrass was simply to tell the story of the voice that was coming through loud and clear.
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? Writing The Spirit of Sweetgrass has been a life- altering experience for me. Not only did it introduce me to the world of publishing, but it opened my eyes to the struggles of the African- American sweetgrass basket weavers in my community. I hope that readers will be touched by the story of my sweet Essie Mae, that their imaginations may soar while exploring Heaven, and that they'll have fun learning about the little-known but important Gullah/Geechee people.
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? The beauty and people of the Lowcountry inspire me, but most of all, God gave my Essie Mae's voice. He is my greatest inspiration. I enjoy reading fiction mostly. I love writers who make me forget I'm reading at all. Some favorites include Amy Tan, Rebecca T. Godwin, and J.L. Miles.
Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know: The Origin of The Spirit of Sweetgrass: Expecting my second child, Coulter, I was struck with the idea for The Spirit of Sweetgrass while driving home past the quaint roadside stands of Mount Pleasant sweetgrass basket weavers. I recall a sense of urgency to get it all down--I found a scrap of paper and begin writing while driving. (Do not attempt this at home.) After research (including learning to weave at Boone Hall Plantation), the novel began to take shape. A month after beginning The Spirit of Sweetgrass, I went on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. I tried to settle in to what might be a very long couple of months. I found I was unable to write, but I reveled in the stories and loving care of a friend of the family, a Lowcountry basket weaver. Just two weeks later, Coulter was born, small but healthy. The circumstances of his birth left me awed and grateful for the blessings of a second chance at life and a healthy child. I soon found the voice of the weaver, Essie Mae, louder and more persistent than ever. I remember having to wake in the middle of the night to put the story on paper--that of Heaven and family ties.