Angels Make Their Hope Here


Breena Clarke is the author of River, Cross My Heart, one of the most memorable stories about African American communities struggling amid segregation. Her 2008 novel Stand the Storm was applauded as “passionate,” “intelligent,” and “deeply affecting,” and her style is said to “bear traces of Eudora Welty’s charm and Toni Morrison’s passion” (Baltimore Sun). Breena Clarke writes with conviction and presents true-to-life, heartrending portraits of people and families navigating wartime and slavery. Now in paperback, ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE (Back Bay Books; July 7, 2015) is a beautiful, passionately told story about the people in an enclave of interracial harmony that existed during the Civil War era.

Inspired by the tales and legends of the settlers of the Ramapo Mountains, ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE tells the story of Dossie Bird, a young girl who has escaped north along the Underground Railroad to Russell’s Knob, a New Jersey mountain community that is home to a racially diverse population who have intermarried and lived in relative peace for generations. Dossie is taken in by the Smoot family, led by Duncan, a strong, hardworking man who is old enough to be her father. Duncan, his reticent but kind sister, his jovial and adrenaline-fueled nephews, and their circle of friends become Dossie’s family.

As Duncan’s helpmeet, Dossie pulls her weight around his house—cooking, cleaning, selling eggs at the local market—and appreciates a life that is quiet and simple. Until the unwanted attentions of an abusive local sheriff threaten her life and drive her toward the scary, riotous, and mean streets of New York City.

Drawing on accounts of the 1863 draft riots, a momentous turning point in race relations in the United States, Breena Clarke’s ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE is a story about family, love, and survival that, like Dossie Bird, is as delicate and tender as it is powerful and triumphant.


Meet the Author

Breena Clarke Photo ResizedBREENA CLARKE grew up in Washington, D.C., and was educated at Howard University. For Angels Make Their Hope Here she drew inspiration from the tales and legends of the settlers of the Ramapo Mountains, not far from her home in New Jersey. Her previous novels are River, Cross My Heart, which was a selection of Oprah’s Book Club, and Stand the Storm.