By Nick Brandestini
On the barrier island of Sapelo off the coast of Georgia, two brothers, JerMarkest and Johnathan, are growing up in the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee people. Their greatest joy is exploring the island like their adoptive mother, Cornelia Walker Bailey, did as a child. As Sapelo’s storyteller and elder matriarch, Cornelia works to preserve what remains of her African-American community as it is encroached upon and transformed by outside property developers.
Reflecting on the complicated splendor of her youth, Cornelia strives to shepherd her young sons through theirs. At the dawn of their adolescence, the brothers inherit her hope, but their bond is tested as they begin to face the wider world. With poetic power, Sapelo captures the story of a family and community on an island saturated with an ancestral history whose beauty demands preservation.