Val Brelinski’s The Girl Who Slept with God
by: Rebecca Evans
The Girl Who Slept with God, by Val Brelinski, is both a tragic and coming of age memoir infused with elegant writing of religion, hardship, and courage. Grace Quanbeck, at seventeen, has just returned from a mission trip in Mexico and is pregnant. Her father, Dr. Quanbeck, a Havard-educated astronomer, reacts and moves Grace and her younger sister, Jory, just shy of fourteen, to a home away from their religious community and private Christian school set in rural Arco, Idaho in the 1970’s. Their new house, next door to Hilda Kleinfelter, who later becomes a strong support role as a surrogate parental figure.
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For Poet Jake Young, it is the pita drizzled with olive oil and za’atar in a Druz Village, clusters of Pinot grapes falling off the vine in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the sweetness of diseased fruit that reveals culture and its inherent connection to the land, and to one another. Between teaching, writing, working on a PhD degree, and serving tables on the weekends, soon-to-be Dr. Young found the time to connect with SNR contributor Kathryn deLancellotti to talk about his new book American Oak; the land that formed him, and his thoughts on craft and creativity.
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$13.99; 312 pages
Weaving a Narrative Case for Early Detection: Sheila Hamilton’s All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness
by Lisa Peterson
“It is my hope that my experience might serve as a cautionary tale for other people who are concerned about a loved one’s mental health.” – Sheila Hamilton
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$15.95; 304 pages
Soft Skull Press
Competing Histories of Shame: Jill Talbot on Family and Loss in The Way We Weren’t
by Michael Fischer
The mother stands at a window, staring out at the rehab center parking lot like a lonely, cooped up pet, waiting for her daughter. The daughter thinks she’s visiting her mother at “special school,” one where even the teachers don’t get to go home at night. She’s too young to know the truth. Besides, it’s Christmas.
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I asked SNR contributor and MFA grad Courtney Harler about her writing, and found myself immersed in a discussion about the seemingly endless duality writers experience between the outside world and the worlds we contain within.
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$16; 261 pages
Ten years on an ambulance in Kevin Hazzard’s A Thousand Naked Strangers
by Clare Frank
The blood-red cartoon ambulance catches my eye. As do the words NAKED and PARAMEDIC. This looks like my kind of book. I was a firefighter for nearly thirty years before I began writing. One of my challenges is finding balance—conveying witnessed trauma with enough grit to honor reality, but not so gratuitously that readers put the book down. Stateside, no one sees more trauma than ambulance paramedics, so I’m curious if this author achieves that balance.
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Award-winning writer Gayle Brandeis is having a big year. With both a book of poetry and a memoir out in 2017, she sat down with me to discuss the female body, the challenges of writing a memoir, and the intersectionality of dancing and writing.
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