SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS
Integrity/Thomas Nelson (March 6, 2007)
NICOLE SEITZ is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and freelance writer/illustrator published in South Carolina 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.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
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.
Relations are strained with her daughter Henrietta, who thinks Essie belongs in a retirement center. If Essie can’t pay $10,000 in back taxes to save her home, she may have no choice. More tensions: her grandson EJ wants to marry a white girl, Essie discovers that a handsome man she’s trying to find a girl for is gay, and her daughter carries a hidden secret.
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.
The SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS shifts less successfully to the afterlife, where her Gullah-Creole ancestors surround her; 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. Together, with Daddy Jim, they team up to return to Earth and battle two spirits conjured up by Henrietta’s voodoo that threatens to ruin an attempt to save the sweetgrass basket weaving culture.