Great Divide by Emily Kiernan
\Great Divide is a novel about memory, the power of the past to shape and subsume the present, and the pressing, terrible need to escape the drowning force of history. The reader inhabits the conflicted and mercurial interior of Jane, a young woman fleeing from years of abuse in her Oregon seacoast home to an uncertain freedom with her boyfriend in the landlocked new world of the Kansas plains. As Jane travels, her progress is threatened by nostalgia and attachment, responsibility and ambivalence, and, finally, by a massive flood which threatens to overwhelm both her past and her future. Great Divide is a novel precariously afloat atop a sea of time, at once alluring and threatening, beckoning us to dive in.
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"More than provide her readers with a moral, Kiernan gives us a situation, one that is perhaps taboo and yet deeply and painfully recognizable. This is what the best writers do, because the best readers are not looking for self-help directionals or happy endings; readers are there to listen, and really listen. It's the only way we can believe there are others out there like us. GREAT DIVIDE lets us know we're not alone. And it reminds us that our worlds, identities, and realities might be, "Untrue, maybe, but deep enough to swim."
"The writing in this novella is just superb. A great deal of attention has been paid to sentence and paragraph structure and the metaphors form a rich flow pulling you into the story. I found the mixture of past and present tenses (past denoted by italics) to be a fascinating and effective technique. I was so immersed at times that I would stop and blink after running over a transition and becoming disoriented. If there is any fault to this book, it is that it is too short both in plot and in time spent with Jane. At the risk of spoilers, the resolution is not final, and I was left with a desire to hear more and learn what happens next."
"We just listened to the author reading an enthralling passage from this intriguing new book. I am enthusiastic to read more."
All About the Author
A native of a decaying Pennsylvania steel town (the one from the Billy Joel song), Emily Kiernan writes about islands, vaudeville, implacable but unjustified feelings of abandonment, the West, and places that aren't the way she remembered them. Emily is a graduate of the MFA writing program at the California Institute of the Arts and resides in Berkeley, CA.