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What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster
Literary fiction

What's Mine and Yours

by Naima Coster

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Quick take

With warmth and empathy, this multigenerational novel traces the lives of two families in a divided Southern community.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SlowRead

    Slow build

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama

Synopsis

A community in the Piedmont of North Carolina rises in outrage as a county initiative draws students from the largely Black east side of town into predominantly white high schools on the west. For two students, Gee and Noelle, the integration sets off a chain of events that will tie their two families together in unexpected ways over the span of the next twenty years.

On one side of the integration debate is Jade, Gee's steely, ambitious mother. In the aftermath of a harrowing loss, she is determined to give her son the tools he'll need to survive in America as a sensitive, anxious, young Black man. On the other side is Noelle's headstrong mother, Lacey May, a white woman who refuses to see her half-Latina daughters as anything but white. She strives to protect them as she couldn't protect herself from the influence of their charming but unreliable father, Robbie.

When Gee and Noelle join the school play meant to bridge the divide between new and old students, their paths collide, and their two seemingly disconnected families begin to form deeply knotted, messy ties that will shape the trajectory of their adult lives. And their mothers—each determined to see her child inherit a better life—will make choices that will haunt them for decades to come.

As love is built and lost, and the past never too far behind, What's Mine and Yours is an expansive, vibrant tapestry that moves between the years, from the foothills of North Carolina, to Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Paris. It explores the unique organism that is every family: what breaks them apart and how they come back together.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of What's Mine and Yours.
What's Mine and Yours

October 1992

A city in the Piedmont of North Carolina

The street was dark when Ray pulled up behind the bakery. The birds sang wild in the trees, the only things astir so early in the morning, the sky a deep and cloudless blue. His little boy, Gee, was asleep in the backseat, neat in his school clothes and fogging up the window with his breath. Ray lifted him out quietly, the keys to the shop jangling in his free hand. They walked around to the front, and the boy was already drooling on him, on his pressed collared shirt, red-and-pink plaid.

“My good luck charm,” Ray whispered as he unlocked the gate, holding the boy close.

Superfine stood near the corner of Beard Street, about a mile north of the city square. A neon sign hung out front, the window boxes planted with yellow mums. This part of town used to be where people would fuel up before driving out of the city, or if they were passing through downtown. There was a garage at the end of the block and a gas station where you could pay only in cash. Otherwise, the neighborhood was empty lots, one-story houses, a ballfield the minor league used in the summer. Wildflowers and busted tires swelled out of the plots of land where the old factories were boarded up. But in the past year, a brewing company had opened in one of the old buildings. They gave tours and served beer in tiny glasses. A lunch window had opened to serve chopped barbecue and hot dogs for a few hours every day. And there was Superfine, which was open from dawn until dusk. They served biscuits and breakfast pastries, coffee, in the morning. At lunch, they sold sandwiches and fresh-baked bread. In the afternoon, they added cookies and lemon bars, slices of chocolate cake. Customers trickled in on their way to work downtown or stopped by to sober up after drunk tours at the brewery across the street. Superfine was cheaper than the coffee stand downtown, and it was the only place this close to get a fresh ham sandwich, a biscuit and peach jam, coffee that didn’t taste like hot water and tar mixed together.

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Why I love it

What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster is a sweeping, fresh new novel. It is the story of two American families, specifically two mothers, each fighting for a better future for their kids. As a mother myself, I related to moms Lacey May and Jade’s fierce love for their children, even when they made mistakes. Nobody understands us like our families, even when imperfect.

Set in Piedmont, North Carolina, Lacey May and Jade find themselves on opposite ends of a debate when their community begins to bring students from the largely Black east side of town into high schools on the predominantly white west side. Lacey May’s daughter, Noelle, and Jade’s son, Gee, cross paths while participating in the school play meant to bring the students together. As their lives become irreparably tied together, their mothers make choices that will haunt each of them into their adult lives. What starts in their small North Carolina town expands into other places for decades to come showing how families rise and fall together.

The story is epic in scope. It is about understanding the demons and the hardships that come before us and how they affect our lives. It will spark conversations around race, identity, and what it means to belong in our families, schools, and communities while racial differences, misunderstandings, and personal tragedies create chasms between us.

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Member ratings (10,134)

  • Kate S.

    Redmond, WA

    The weave of characters’ stories gets more complex the further you go. Who starts and ends as a “good” character flips, which shows just how impactful inaction is on people’s trajectories as action.

  • Nancy R.

    Excelsior, MN

    It took me awhile but I loved the characters and the book’s construction. It’s about motherhood, human frailty, and race identity. It almost unfolds too slowly, but Coster’s writing is real and lovely

  • Margaret S.

    Allentown, PA

    Such engaging writing! Characters were so authentic and true to themselves that they made the story feel real and rich with deep meaning. No easy/flat “good” and “bad” to root for or against here.

  • Sydney H.

    New York, NY

    An outstanding read and 100% what I’d expect from literary fiction! It is so clearly and excellently focused on character development, with a raw ending that’s bittersweet in every sense of the word.

  • Angela C.

    Ashland, OR

    Great character development- love books written from multiple characters’ perspectives! The writing flowed and the story was powerfully honest. Sad and a little predictable, but it didn’t take away.

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