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This profound and intense debut novel is the story of a young African American woman from West Philadelphia who finds her path to a bright future in gentrified Brooklyn, New York, blocked when she can't let go of the love she lost.
Crystelle has a well-employed fiancé and a life in New York City that most young professionals would envy. She has come a long way from skipping rope on the cracked sidewalks of the rough Philadelphia neighborhood where she was raised by a loving mother and grandfather. She experienced good times and bad in equal measure in a community where people worked, played, and sometimes fought hard too. She didn't leave the past behind her though. A ghost from those West Philly days haunts her, a spirit whose presence in her dreams is as welcome as it is unsettling. That spirit is Jimmie, her high school sweetheart -- the one who she watched get gunned down one hot, unforgettable night all those years ago.
Unnerved by her dreams of Jimmie and the suspicion that she may be pregnant, Crystelle takes a train back to her old neighborhood to reconnect with friends and family. There, with the help of Jimmie's mother -- a woman who Crystelle loves like family and who makes a prison visit to the young man who murdered her son -- Crystelle comes to grips with the memory that haunts her and learns the power of forgiveness and the need to move on.
With its deeply resonant depictions of urban African American life and the cultural forces that challenge and sustain their communities, Crystelle Mourning is a triumphant, lyrical beginning to a bright new talent in fiction.