In ‘The Accidentals,’ One Family’s Dark History Won’t Stay Buried [REVIEW]


Like migratory birds blown off course, sometimes life “jumps the track and crashes.” (Photo courtesy Canva)

A mother who dreams of something more. Two daughters who must live with a terrible secret. The fateful decision that fractures all of their lives for decades to come. In Minrose Gwin’s The Accidentals, one family must carve its way through sixty years of history in the deep South.

Minrose Gwin's The Accidentals - Credit William Morrow

William Morrow

It is 1957 and in the tiny town of Opelika, Mississippi, Olivia McAlister is dying. Not literally, but figuratively. Life hasn’t turned out the way she’d dreamed, and she longs for excitement and adventure. She misses living in New Orleans where she worked at the landing boat factory during the war. But that isn’t the role she’s meant to play. Instead, she is trapped in Mississippi with her husband, Holly, and her daughters, Grace and June. In fact, she feels like one of the migratory birds who have been blown off course—birds she calls “the accidentals.” And that is what her life has now become, a series of accidents that have landed her somewhere she doesn’t want to be.

Then Olivia finds out she is pregnant… again. All she needs is one more mouth to feed, one more child to drain the family’s already limited financial resources and keep them trapped in Mississippi forever. That’s when she makes a decision that will not only end in personal tragedy, but will send her family reeling for years to come. In the years that follow, Grace falls in love and finds herself sent away to have a baby in private. June, on the other hand, lands an unhappy marriage after she reveals her sister’s secret sin. And finally, there’s Ed Mae Johnson, an orphanage care worker in New Orleans, who is also touched by Grace’s choices.

Each of these women find their way through events like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Challenger disaster, and even Barack Obama’s presidential run. As readers, we watch how their lives connect, one to the other, like the broken pieces of a mosaic which ultimately craft one unforgettable picture. Flawed, fractured, and imperfect, Gwin shows us it is possible for a family to play the hand it is dealt, even when control is nothing more than an illusion.

The Accidentals is a Southern novel written in the tradition of William Faulkner and E.L. Doctorow. It is a tale that takes a languid journey through time and examines one family’s dark history which will not stay buried. Using alternating perspectives, Gwin faces down difficult social issues, approaches them with tenacity, and makes us look at how America’s tragedies affect us all, even in the nation’s remotest communities.

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Minrose Gwin

Minrose Gwin
(Photo by Kim Jew Photography Studios)


Minrose Gwin is the author of the novels The Queen of Palmyra and Promise, and a memoir, Wishing for Snow. Wearing another hat, she has written four other nonfiction books, including Remembering Medgar Evers: Writing the Long Civil Rights Movement.

She has taught as a professor at universities across the country, most recently at the University of North Carolina, and started her writing career as a newspaper reporter. She lives in Austin, Texas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Visit her home on the Web at and like her on Facebook.

By Minrose Gwin
416 pp. William Morrow. $16.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase The Accidentals at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, HarperCollins, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

The Accidentals is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

4 Responses to In ‘The Accidentals,’ One Family’s Dark History Won’t Stay Buried [REVIEW]

  1. trish says:

    “…America’s tragedies affect us all…” Whoa, that’s a really profound statement.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the book! I think the premise is really thought provoking.

  2. Sara Strand says:

    I absolutely love stories like this, where secrets change the course of everyone’s lives. Thank you for being on this tour, I’m going to have to pick this one up! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  3. Pingback: Minrose Gwin, author of The Accidentals, on tour August 2019 | TLC Book Tours

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