Truth Like Oil, is the impactful story of two mothers in Boston, Massachusetts: Nadine Antoine, a Haitian-American nurses' aide, and Hazel Watkins, a white cantankerous nonagenarian felled by a stroke who struggles with her own helplessness and dependency.
When Nadine's youngest son, Chance, is arrested, and her eldest son, Henry, the only Black undergraduate on a scholarship at his college, threatens to quit to help the family, Nadine wrestles with how much of her sons' parentage she is willing to reveal to her boys.
Meanwhile, Chance's basketball coach, Gary, who is also Hazel's spoiled and neglectful son, turns up in court to defend the boy. Suddenly, while fighting for her sons' futures, Nadine must contend with Gary's intentions and his romantic overtures.
Polyphonic and vibrant, Truth Like Oil is a brilliant tale of racial bias and the foundations of community; a novel of our times and totally irresistible.
About the Author
Connie Biewald has been writing stories in an effort to explore human relationships since she was five years old. She has been a teacher for more than 40 years, sharing her love of reading and writing with homeschoolers and hundreds of students in public and private schools in the US and Haiti. For the past thirty-five years she has been both a librarian and a Growth Education resource person at the Fayerweather Street School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In her Growth Ed role, Connie works with children, parents and other teachers exploring the essential topics of human development-self esteem, the use and misuse of power, altruism and community service, sexuality, appreciation and understanding of differences. This work is reflected in her writing. She is the grateful recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council artist grant, a PEN New England Discovery Award and numerous residencies. Visit her website at conniebiewald.com.
"Heartfelt and grounded, TRUTH LIKE OIL glows with authenticity and experience--what a pleasure." Gish Jen, The Resisters
"Vivid with complex characters, Truth Like Oil is a heart-affirming novel centered on Nadine Antoine, and her two sons, --one brimming with potential; the other full of problems. Saddled by the weight of a troubled adolescence, resilient Nadine, a Haitian-American nurses' aide, is intent on her sons rising above the odds trapping so many young Black men in this graceful story that explores race, identity, prejudice, community and secrets. Emotionally true and beautifully written, Truth Like Oil is a timely gift to be shared." Robin Farmer, Malcolm and Me
"TRUTH LIKE OIL is the moving and ultimately uplifting story of a single woman from Haiti, and her sons - two very different boys - each struggling with the secrets necessary to the preservation of personal integrity. Connie Biewald's honest prose hums with love for her characters as they navigate the complexities of life in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her graceful rendering of Haiti's influence on each of them grounds the unraveling and reformation of their relationships, mother to son, brother to brother, lover to lover, and family to community. You'll find yourself wondering - long after you've finished the rewarding conclusion - about how Nadine and her boys are doing now, as if you're missing old friends." Tracy Winn, Mrs. Somebody Somebody
"Full of wisdom and compassion, this emotionally bountiful novel is a thoroughly contemporary portrayal of family in all its flaws and resilience. Connie Biewald's cast of richly developed characters are steeped in place and displacement as they move through layers of yearning and pain toward connection. Strong women learn to love without weakness. Fatherless boys learn to be men. Individuals navigate racial and economic inequities, the vagaries of aging and loss, and the joy and hope of birth. Big-hearted and intelligent, this novel grabs you from the first page and lingers long after the last." Laura Brown, Made by Mary and Quickening
"Where does one person's story end and another's begin, especially the story of a mother and child, child and mother?" In Connie Biewald's moving, bighearted novel, a single mother and her two sons grapple with their identities and the hidden truths that frame her past and their beginnings. TRUTH LIKE OIL engrosses and entrances - we love these characters in all their frailties and failures because their depiction is so real. We know these people, believe in them, and are rooting for them. I love this book." Daphne Kalotay, Blue Hours, Russian Winter, Sight Reading, Calamity and Other Stories
"Connie Biewald's novel reaches across a net of characters whose attachment and obligation to one another transcends all false lines of kinship (race, age, class, nationality) to celebrate the true ones: love, compassion, charity, and justice. Haitian Nadine, at novel's center, reminds me of the fierce mothers from the time of Grace Paley and Tillie Olson; Biewald follows in their footsteps, updating yet honoring the toil and trouble of loving one's children." Antonya Nelson, Some Fun, Female Trouble The Expendables, In the Land of Men