Sometime ago, I got an early read on the opening pages of a manuscript that has haunted me ever since. While I read, I was filled with a deep sense of foreboding about the story and its narrator, seventeen-year-old Mel. I was chilled, torn up by what going to happen, wanting to stop it, wanting to warn Mel, and yet helplessly carried along. I was also filled with a sense that this novel NEEDED to be published and I knew—yes, I knew it in my bones—that one day soon I’d be seeing its release. Today is that day! (Technically, that day was April 26, but I’m celebrating today for a reason I’ll tell you below.)
These pages that I read were from an early draft of Micol Ostow’s latest novel, family, inspired by the Manson Family murders in 1969.
I’m about to give away a copy of this incredible, original, and disturbing book, and I’ll also share an interview with its author, the incredible, original, and actually very sweet and not disturbing Micol Ostow. BUT, before I say anything more, to get a sense of how this book made me feel, I need you to see something.
This. The book trailer. Turn up your volume, cut the lights, and hit Play:
(I swear that trailer is going to give me nightmares.)
That probably gave you chills. Want more? Here’s the summary of the book:
i have always been broken.
i could have. died.
and maybe it would have been better if i had.
It is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem. Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and—best of all—a family. One that will embrace her and give her love. Because family is what Mel has never really had. And this new family, Henry’s family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs. And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do. No matter what the family does, or how far they go.
Told in episodic verse, family is a fictionalized exploration of cult dynamics, loosely based on the Manson Family murders of 1969. It is an unflinching look at people who are born broken, and the lengths they’ll go to to make themselves “whole” again.
So intense—so good.
I’m happy to say that Micol was kind enough to answer questions from me, in the first author interview I’ve ever posted on my blog. So why am I posting this today and not a few days ago when the book released? Because today is Micol’s birthday! Happy Birthday, Micol! To honor her birthday and her book’s birthday, here’s an interview with Micol—and also a chance to win a copy of her book: