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Across the Narrows, by Martha Burns

In 1924, at Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital, Ruby del Palacio delivers a blue baby weeks early. The baby girl dies for want of oxygen. Within a year, Ruby delivers another baby girl named Alice.

Gradually realizing that her sole role in the del Palacio household is to conceive, deliver, and nurse babies, trapped by societal expectations in a time of limited women’s rights and rampant injustices, Ruby summons the courage to sue for a legal separation from her Colombian husband, Juan. Her efforts are met with a counter lawsuit, resulting in Juan being granted custody of their six children. Months later, he flees the state with the children, leaving Ruby abandoned and bereft.

Decades later, Alice embarks on a journey to find her long-lost mother. It is only when a dear friend imparts a profound revelation to Alice, explaining that forgiveness necessitates relinquishing all hope for a different past, that Alice finds the strength to accept her history.

Across the Narrows unravels as a sweeping family saga, centered around a tragedy that shapes the del Palacio family’s destiny and leaves little room for forgiveness. With themes of love, loss, and resilience, this poignant novel explores the transformative power of forgiveness and the pursuit of one’s own identity in the face of adversity.

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