THE SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS
In this well-written story about a basket weaver, her Gullah ancestors and her family, Seitz shows readers her love for South Carolina. The author's work is an entertaining feast of culture, with vivid imagery and a strong voice. Some conservative readers might have difficulty with the non-Christian religious traditions of the heroine's ancestors, but the writer is clear that God is the greatest power.
Essie Mae Jenkins is getting on in years, but her fingers still create the most beautiful baskets. Each day her grandson takes her out to the highway, where she sells her work. Her daughter thinks it's time she retire and live in an old-folks home, but Essie Mae won't hear of it. Is she too old to fight? Should she give up and go home to heaven to be with her beloved husband, or will God grant her the strength to finish her work on Earth? (Integrity, Feb., 304 pp., $13.99)