One of our recommended books is The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian

THE GIRLS IN THE STILT HOUSE


Set in 1920s Mississippi, this debut Southern novel weaves a beautiful and harrowing story of two teenage girls cast in an unlikely partnership through murder—perfect for readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and If the Creek Don’t Rise.

Ada promised herself she would never go back to the Trace, to her hard life on the swamp and her harsh father. But now, after running away to Baton Rouge and briefly knowing a different kind of life, she finds herself with nowhere to go but back home. And she knows there will be a price to pay with her father.

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Set in 1920s Mississippi, this debut Southern novel weaves a beautiful and harrowing story of two teenage girls cast in an unlikely partnership through murder—perfect for readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and If the Creek Don’t Rise.

Ada promised herself she would never go back to the Trace, to her hard life on the swamp and her harsh father. But now, after running away to Baton Rouge and briefly knowing a different kind of life, she finds herself with nowhere to go but back home. And she knows there will be a price to pay with her father.

Matilda, daughter of a sharecropper, is from the other side of the Trace. Doing what she can to protect her family from the whims and demands of some particularly callous locals is an ongoing struggle. She forms a plan to go north, to pack up the secrets she’s holding about her life in the South and hang them on the line for all to see in Ohio.

As the two girls are drawn deeper into a dangerous world of bootleggers and moral corruption, they must come to terms with the complexities of their tenuous bond and a hidden past that links them in ways that could cost them their lives.

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  • Sourcebooks Landmark
  • Paperback
  • April 2021
  • 384 Pages
  • 9781728217710

Buy the Book

$16.99

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About Kelly Mustian

Kelly Mustian grew up in Natchez, Mississippi, the southern terminus of the historic Natchez Trace. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and commercial magazines, and she is a past recipient of a Blumenthal Writers Award and a Regional Artist Grant from the North Carolina Arts and Science Council. She currently lives near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. The Girls in the Stilt House is her debut novel.

Praise

“An astonishingly assured debut… this unforgettable novel is the best book I’ve read in a very long time. A triumph!” — Elizabeth Letts, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Finding Dorothy

“A brilliantly researched, atmospheric page-turner. I devoured it in a single weekend, yet the novel’s haunting spell remained with me long after.” —Kate Moore, New York Times bestselling author of The Radium Girls and the upcoming The Woman They Could Not Silence

“A gripping novel about friendship, danger, isolation, and the vivid, dripping, moving landscape of a Mississippi swamp. If you loved Where the Crawdads Sing, you’ll love The Girls in the Stilt House. —Nina de Gramont, author of The Last September

“Authentic characters complement the vivid setting—readers will feel the weight to the Trace’s humidity—I this nearly flawless tale of loss, perseverance, and redemption.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Discussion Questions

1. How did you feel about Ada’s return to the Natchez Trace? Why do you think she decided to come back? Do you think there were any other choices that she didn’t consider?

2. Describe Matilda and Ada’s relationship after their first fraught night together. Who is in charge? How are their actions shaped by Virgil’s lingering presence?

3. Why do you think Matilda insists that Ada call Gertie “Miss Tuttle”? How would you characterize the relationship between Matilda and Gertie throughout the story?

4. What did you think of Peggy Creedle? Is there a difference between how she treats Matilda and how she treats Ada? How do her whims shape the story?

5. Think about Virgil Morgan and Frank Bowers. Are they comparable villains? How does social class affect their actions and demands? What did you think of their ultimate ends?

6. Why do you think Matilda withholds so much information from Ada?

7. Teensy always looks for something beautiful in her day, even if she ends up being grateful for something very small. What do you think of that philosophy? How do Matilda’s feelings toward the practice evolve throughout the book?

8. Matilda blames herself for losing Dalton and Annis to the fire. How does that guilt motivate her? Do you think she ever forgives herself fully?

9. Describe the events that lead to Ada accepting the housekeeping job from Frank. Can you imagine something similar happening today?

10. By the end of the book, how has the relationship between Ada and Matilda changed since their first meeting?