The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
This book is one of historical fiction at it's finest. The research that went into the book is apparent while reading the descriptions of late 1700's/early 1800's Virginia. It's hard to believe that this was a debut for the author.
The story is told primarily by Lavinia, an indentured servant to the Captain who buys her as a young child after her parents die on their voyage to America. Lavinia is raised by slaves in the "kitchen house" and comes to know them as her only family. The other primary voice in the story is that of Belle, the illegitimate daughter of the captain born by one of the slave women. Belle gives us a realistic voice to the things Lavinia sees through the eyes of a child and through the naivety of someone not born into nor understands the true meaning of slavery.
The characters in this book are so well written that you come to love them all, even though one in particular you tend to have a love-hate relationship. Mama Mae, Belle, Papa George, Ben and Will Stephens show that family and love comes in a variety regardless of color.
You laugh, cry, cringe and yell with these characters as you are seeing the love, hatred, births, weddings, brutality and death unfold. Some parts are hard to read, but it's like that "wreck you can't stop watching" just because you have to know what happens.
If you love historical fiction, this one will not disappoint.