Book Review: Promise

Today’s book review, Promise, is based on a real event. A devastating tornado hit Tupelo, Mississippi at the height of the Great Depression.

The plot focuses on two women: A black great-grandmother and a white teen.


Book Summary:

A few minutes after 9 p.m. on Palm Sunday, April 5, 1936, a massive funnel cloud hit town. It careened into the thriving cotton-mill town of Tupelo, Mississippi.

Number Killed:

More than 200 people were killed, not counting an unknown number of black citizens. They were not included in the official casualty figures.

When the tornado hits, Dovey, a local laundress, is flung by the terrifying winds into a nearby lake. Bruised and nearly drowned, she makes her way across Tupelo to find her small family.

Dazed & Desperate:

Slowly navigating the broken streets of Tupelo, Dovey stops at the house of the despised McNabb family. Inside, she discovers that the tornado has spared no one. Jo, the McNabbs’ dutiful teenage daughter, has suffered a terrible head wound.

When Jo later discovers a baby in the wreckage, she is certain that she’s found her baby brother, Tommy. And vows to protect him.

This book, which spans mere days, is very well written and researched. Minrose Gwin writes beautiful prose. Her words made me feel like I was right there with her two main characters.

The author included actual photos from the thirties in the back of this book.

This is a story about grief and loss and strength and race. She has the habits of southerners down pat. I truly enjoyed this book!

About The Author:

Minrose has been a writer all of her working life. She started out as a newspaper and wire service reporter in Mobile, Atlanta, Nashville, and Knoxville.

Minrose’s 2018 novel, Promise, imagines the aftermath of the devastating Tupelo, Mississippi tornado of 1936.

It was the fourth most deadly tornado in the country’s history. The official death toll was 233 residents.


Growing up in Tupelo, she heard all kinds of wild stories about the storm. Flying children, dehorned cows, people found dangling dead and alive in treetops.

A lifeless baby girl was discovered in one of her grandmother’s crepe myrtle bushes. Her grandparents’ home was one of the few in the tornado’s path left standing. It served as a way station for the wounded and homeless.

What Minrose would later learn is that she had heard only one side of this tragedy. Members of the black community had been omitted from the official casualty figures.

So the real story of the Tupelo tornado is of racial injustice which extended even beyond the grave. In Promise, Minrose excavates that untold story of the uncounted.

I hope you enjoyed my book review.



  1. This novel sounds like such a great story. I will be sure to place this one on my hold list at the library. Thank you for the review.

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