Meredith Mandin is a first-generation college student and a new doctoral candidate. Just as she begins her doctoral program, her mother runs off with a man she just met, and her father is arrested for raping her stepsister. With a wry sense of humor at the dark and comedic turns of her life, Meredith struggles to parent her daughters and her mother, navigate the treacherous waters of competitive graduate students, and find a job to prevent sliding back into her family’s generational poverty—all while finishing her dissertation on Grace King, a pre-Modernist New Orleans writer.
Meanwhile, in her own time in the nineteenth century, nine-year-old Grace King survives the Civil War and grows into a strong, southern writer—until her own challenges threaten to destroy her sense of self and identity.
As they struggle to define themselves one hundred years apart, Meredith and Grace risk poverty and social suicide as they carve a daringly different future than the one society had prescribed.
Finding Grace and Grit shows the darkness southern women often face as well as their resolve to overcome it—all with a bright smile and a “bless your heart” attitude.
Praise for Finding Grace and Grit:
“In this debut novel, Khristeena Lute creates a compelling tale about two southern women separated in time by more than a century. Each struggles to find her own voice despite domestic and cultural obstacles; each longs for adequate reward to ease the financial burden for herself and family. Told in tandem as alternate chapters, the two dramas become more entwined as the story’s protagonist, graduate student Meredith Mandin, digs deeper into the subject of her dissertation: a real-life nineteenth-century writer, Grace King.
The aptly titled Finding Grace and Grit will convince readers that Khristeena Lute is a sensitive storyteller. Part of the pleasure of the book is its unadorned everydayness. She tells it simply but considers weighty themes. In addition, readers who know Grace King from her letters, journals, and memoir will find this factional version delicious. Lute captures an essence of the too-little-known writer and pioneering historian. She might well send readers in further search of King’s life and works which, of course, is what Meredith Mandin would want her dissertation to do.”
–MIKI PFEFFER, PhD., Author of A New Orleans Author in Mark Twain’s Court: Letters from Grace King’s New England Sojourns (LSU Press, 2019) and Southern Ladies and Suffragists: Julia Ward Howe and Women’s Rights at the 1884 New Orleans World’s Fair (University Press of Mississippi, 2014).
Finding Grace and Grit is forthcoming from Thorncraft Publishing, https://www.thorncraftpublishing.com.