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Noon and Herbie are deeply in love and living in a tightly knit African American neighborhood in South Philadelphia during the 1940s. But their marriage remains unconsummated because of a horrible incident in Noon's past, so each seeks comfort elsewhere: Noon in the warm acceptance of the neighborhood church; Herbie in the arms of Ethel, a jazz singer. Then one day an infant girl is left on their doorstep, and later Ethel blesses them with her five-year-old niece. Suddenly and unexpectedly a family, Herbie, Noon, and their two girls draw closer—until an outside threat reawakens a fire in Noon, causing her to rise up and fight to hold her family and her community together.
Diane McKinney-Whetstone's Tumbling is a poignant, exquisitely rendered story of the ties that bind us and the secrets that keep us apart.