In his extravagantly intimate autobiographical novel, Lander Duncan reconstructs the heart shattering images and remembrances of the dark, violent, and incoherent first two decades of his life. PROMISES Seduced by CJ, a sleek-framed Tuskegee cadet, the mixed-race diabolically beautiful Abigail, who is the fifteen-year-old daughter of the dean of faculty, sets this novel in motion when she becomes pregnant. With a reluctant agreement from her father, Abigail marries CJ and defiantly departs for his family farm in the Arkansas Delta. CJ reports for active duty to a segregated Ft. Huachuca in Arizona. As a powerful chronicle of a time, the novel's sobering historical backdrop is dramatically revealed through Abigail's culture collisions and misadventures intersecting with the harsh, alienating, and unpredictable Delta life and the racial indignities and clashes that CJ confronts while commanding a combat anti-demolition company in Europe. SECRETS After returning home a war hero, humiliation and bitterness eat away at CJ who must take a demeaning job as a railroad Red Cap to support his family. CJ's offer of a steadying hand to a white woman who stumbles as she gets off a train turns into an incident that produces a night of horror. The lives and fate of the Duncan family are forever changed. Exiled to a small, racially divided Pennsylvania town, Abigail, emotionally damaged by the ordeal, compels Lander and his brothers to promise never to reveal anything about their frightening past. Abigail's habit of hiding things-even losses, disappointments, humiliations, and racial identity-becomes a great burden that keeps her sons' lives in upheaval. CONFESSIONS Abandoned by his mother and estranged for more than a decade from his family, Lander is summoned home for the last few days of Abigail's life. Past informs present, and present recasts past; the brothers exchange stories that trace the vast emotional terrain of havoc their mother so thoughtlessly wrecked, the sense of confusion that shifted beneath their feet, the doors of self-perception that slammed in their face. They want desperately to love Abigail in all her flawed, outrageous humanity and find an opportunity to forgive the felonies she committed against them. A memorable cast emerges in poignant and too few moments of triumph. Sifting through Abigail's possessions, an undated letter is discovered that produces a damning and destructive secret.