In Belle Place, Louisiana, where the sugarcane grows a mile high to the bright blue sky, Celeste struggles with her mentally ill mother, Tut, and works with her grandmother Maymay to hold the Creole Bastille family together.
Celeste has bigger dreams for her life, and is falling for the handsome and wealthy Vashan. But, when Tut runs away to live with the man she met working in the sugarcane to escape her reputation as the town whore, Maymay fears that Celeste will end up like her mother. And just as things are finally looking up for Tut, her past returns with violent, tragic results.
Will Celeste end up like her mother, or will she redeem her family from the hoodoo curse that haunts them? And will she find love with someone from a culture just as exotic as her own?
Maggie Collins was born and raised under the clear blue skies of Loreauville, Louisiana. She majored in English at the University of Louisiana and later earned a Master's degree from the University of New Orleans. An excerpt of this novel was published in "Louisiana Cultural Vistas" and was a 2009 finalist for the worldwide William Faulkner William Wisdom writing contest. She is a Center for Black Literature fellow and an Educational Diagnostician. She lives with her two sons and wonderful husband
Praise for Celestial Blue Skies
Reviews Maggie Collins’ mesmerizing novel takes us deep into the hearts and minds of a Louisiana creole family struggling to maintain their dignity and traditional values within an uncompromising world full of poverty, superstition, and intolerance. Celeste, the main character, must navigate through the rigid cultural code demanded from her family as she strives to transcend the bad reputation her mother has acquired in the community. She soon learns that those demands, although at times brutal and suffocating in the hands of her grandmother and matriarch, Maymay, come from a source of genuine love and caring. The values she learns from her family are what eventually guide her towards a stronger sense of self and a better, self-fulfilling life. A fabulous read, full of engaging complex characters and fascinating situations, Celestial Blue Skies, invites us to consider that at times the only type of love that can help us survive is an exacting, fierce one. --J.L. Torres, author of The Accidental Native and Boricua Passport.
Maggie Collins writes about real people who live on the page. Celeste Bastille is a young woman who will win the reader and stay in her memory. Most of the characters are as vivid as Celeste and they are a family. As much as you want Celeste to find happiness in her own life, the family needs her. Collins weaves a tale as intriguing as the folktale that is the basis for the book. Celeste earns her Celestial Blue Sky. ~ Lee Grue, Editor, The New Laurel Review
It isn't often that I get to visit Creole homes in southwest Louisiana and just listen. I like to tell my friends here in Europe that New Orleans is a city of tribes who are more or less friendly to one another. Within the black community there are tribes with complex differences, within the white community there are tribes. But the tribe I love the most is the tribe of the heart. Ms. Collins is surely part of that. Celestial Blue Skies is a book of the heart. It describes a Creole family in southwest Louisiana some few years ago, with the authority of an insider. I found myself peering through watery eyes a number of times. Truthful books touch you that way. ~ Gordon Walmsley, author of Daisy, The Alchemical Adventures of a New Orleans Hermaphrodite, Editor, The Copenhagen Review