Knees of Gullah Island by Dwight Fryer

The Knees of Gullah Island by Dwight Fryer


Gillam Hale was born to free parents, and his life was untouched by slavery until his preacher father took him on a trip to minister to the Virginia slaves. Gillam wants beautiful Queen Esther from the moment he sees her, but the only way to purchase her is by distilling illicit whiskey--against his family's advice.

Though Gillam achieves his aim, his talent for making fine whiskey earns the wrath of jealous white neighbors, who kidnap Gillam's family and scatter them to plantations throughout the South. Gillam escapes from his new owners, yet he can never be truly free until he finds his lost loved ones, and faces the legacy of his own rash decisions. 

The Knees of Gullah Island follows Gillam, Queen Esther and their son, Joseph, in the years surrounding the Civil War and Reconstruction, when the destiny of a nation hung in the balance. Filled with richly drawn characters and details that bring the past to vibrant life, this is a timeless story of love, loss, hope and rebirth.

Important elements of Gullah Island:

-Gullah/Geechee culture; Language impacts of our Gullah-Geechee origins (Bubba means brother in the Gullah tongue and is usually a white male today)

-The book’s main theme is “bent knees straighten crooked deeds.”

-Violence against women-the impact of slavery on U. S. culture and the exodus of the male from our homes

-The U. S. slave trade and Charleston, “Ellis Island South”, because four of ten U. S. slaves came through its harbor

The spiritual origins of slavery as framed by the scripture the books begins:


-KJV 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

-Fine Carolina Lowcountry cuisine, including shrimp and grits and turtle oxtail and okra soup.

-The sexual temptations from slavery then and today (this is a growing problem in our country and the world)

-Children born without the blessing of marriage. Miss Grozalia told a young girl to remember that “mos times two lay down but three get up.” This storyline also deals with the sacredness of a sexual union and the importance of the “one-flesh” rule in God’s design for male / female relationships.

-Church history from the AME Church and the Episcopal Church. An actually AME bishop, Bishop Richard “Big Daddy” Cain, makes a cameo, but pivotal appearance—it was such a fun time convincing my New York based editor that the rapper stole the name from this historical figure after she tried to change it during the initial editorial process.

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