Okra Picks are a dozen fresh titles chosen each season that SIBA Indie Bookstores want to handsell. These books should be southern in nature but can cover any genre, not just fiction. Southern readers love their writers, and we want to be at the forefront of bringing them a strong selection of Southern titles not to be missed each season.


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View all the Okra Picks (Fall 2014-present) here.

  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

    An American Marriage

    One of the most anticipated novels of 2018 according to BustleSouthern LivingBookishNylon * iBooks

    The author of Silver Sparrow returns with a stunning novel about race, loyalty, and love that endures.

    Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

    This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward--with hope and pain--into the future.

    An American Marriage by Tayari Jones | Algonquin Books | 9781616208776

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  • Daily Writing Resilience by Bryan Robinson

    Daily Writing Resilience

    Chances are, whether you're a seasoned author or an aspiring scribe, you've grappled with your share of rejection, setbacks, and heartbreak. However, literary agents say the number one key to writing success is perseverance in the face of disappointment.

    Daily Writing Resilience provides advice, inspiration, and techniques to help you turn roadblocks into steppingstones. You'll find tips and support through exercises such as meditation, breath work, yoga, stress management, gratitude, de-cluttering, sleep, exercise, mindful eating, and more. These 365 meditations will help you navigate the ups-and-downs of your writing practice, creating positive habits that will guide you toward the success and fulfillment that you've been seeking.

    Daily Writing Resilience by Bryan Robinson | Llewellyn Publications | 9780738753430

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  • Daisy Cakes Bakes by Kim Nelson

    Daisy Cakes Bakes

    A beautiful baking cookbook of 100 recipes for the delicious cakes that made Daisy Cakes a huge success story of ABC’s Shark Tank, plus cookies, pies, cobblers, and more—with 60 photographs evoking a sense of nostalgia for making your own family recipes.

    The scent of cake baking in the oven, the pretty sheen of frosting being whipped up nice and light, or the glorious mess of measuring and mixing ingredients for cookie dough are memories cherished by many a home baker. Kim Nelson grew up learning to make family recipes alongside her mother, grandmothers, and great aunt. This pastime blossomed into Kim’s beloved company, Daisy Cakes, which ships delicious Southern layer cakes in keepsake tins all across the US. Daisy Cakes Bakes shares those family cake recipes, as well as recipes for cookies, bars, confections, pies, ice creams, and more. The flavors are rich but never cloying, the recipes are crowd-pleasing and simple to make, and Kim’s engaging stories will inspire everyone to start their own baking traditions.

    Daisy Cakes Bakes by Kim Nelson | Clarkson Potter | 9780451499417

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  • Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell

    Dreaming in Chocolate

    A story of love, hot chocolate, and one little girl’s wish for her mother that will make your heart swell.

    At twenty-seven, Penelope Dalton is quickly ticking off items on a bucket list. Only the list isn’t hers. After her eight year-old daughter Ella is given just six months to live, Penelope is determined to fill Ella’s remaining days with as many new experiences as she can.

    With an endless supply of magical gifts and recipes from the hot chocolate café Penelope runs alongside her mother in a small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, she is able to give her daughter almost everything she wants. The one sticking point is Ella’s latest addition to her list: get a dad. And not just any dad. Ella has her sights set on Noah Gregory, her biological father and the only person Penelope knows to have proved her true love hot chocolate wrong.

    Now Noah’s back in town for a few months—and as charming as ever—and the part of her that dreamed he was her fate in the first place wonders if she made the right decision to keep the truth of their daughter from him. The other, more practical part, is determined to keep him from breaking Ella’s heart too.

    But as Ella’s health declines, Penelope must give in to her fate or face a future of regrets.

    Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell | St. Martin’s Griffin | 9781250089076

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  • Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

    Fire Sermon

    The highly-anticipated, provocative debut novel from the “fearless” (The New Yorker) and “distinctive” (San Francisco Chronicle) Jamie Quatro, Fire Sermon charts with bold intimacy and immersive sensuality the life of a married woman in the grip of a magnetic affair

    “It would be difficult to overstate the wonder I felt while reading this novel. It’s among the most beautiful books I’ve ever read about longing—for beauty, for sex, for God, for a coherent life.”—Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

    Maggie is entirely devoted to her husband Thomas, their two beautiful children, and to God—until what begins as a platonic intellectual and spiritual exchange between writer Maggie and poet James transforms into an erotically-charged bond that challenges Maggie’s sense of loyalty and morality, drawing her deeper into the darkness of desire.

    A daring debut novel of obsession, lust, and salvation by the highly lauded author of the story collection, I Want To Show You More, Fire Sermon is a tour de force that charts with bold intimacy and immersive sensuality the life of a married woman in the grip of a magnetic affair.

    Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro | Grove Press | 9780802127044

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  • Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown

    Gods of Howl Mountain

    The third novel by the acclaimed author of The River of Kings and Fallen Land.

    Set in the high country of 1950s North Carolina, Gods of Howl Mountain is a dark and compelling novel of family secrets, whiskey-running, vengeance, and love.

    Maybelline Docherty, “Granny May,” is a folk healer with a dark past. She concocts potions and cures for the people of the mountains—her powers rumored to rival those of a wood witch—while watching over her grandson, Rory Docherty, who has returned from the Korean War with a wooden leg and nightmares of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Rory runs bootleg whiskey in a high-powered car to roadhouses, brothels, and private clients in the mill town at the foot of the mountains—a hotbed of violence, moonshine, and the burgeoning sport of stock-car racing.

    Granny May must help her grandson battle rival runners and federal revenue agents, snake-handling pastors, and the mystery of his own haunted past: namely, the real story behind his mother’s long confinement in a mental hospital, during which she has remained completely silent.

    With gritty and atmospheric prose, Taylor Brown brings to life a perilous mountain and the family who rules it, tying together past and present in one captivating narrative.

    Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown | St. Martin's Press | 9781250111777

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  • I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhorn

    I Was Anastasia

    “Compelling and utterly fascinating…drifts far into the mysterious lives of Anastasia Romanov and Anna Anderson.”—Lisa Wingate, author of Before We Were Yours

    In an enthralling new feat of historical suspense, Ariel Lawhon unravels the extraordinary twists and turns in Anna Anderson’s 50-year battle to be recognized as Anastasia Romanov. Is she the Russian Grand Duchess, a beloved daughter and revered icon, or is she an imposter, the thief of another woman’s legacy?

    Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.

    Russia, July 17, 1918: Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

    Germany, February 17, 1920: A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

    Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.

    As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.

    The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.

    I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon | Doubleday |9780385541695

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  • Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett

    Marabel and the Book of Fate

    Free-spirited Marabel must defy expectations to rescue her brother--and their kingdom--in this charming, action-packed, and magical story perfect for fans of Ella Enchanted and Dealing with Dragons.

    In Magikos, life is dictated by the Book of Fate's ancient predictions, including the birth of a royal Chosen One who will save the realm. Princess Marabel has grown up in the shadow of her twin brother, Marco, who everyone assumes is the true Chosen One. While Marco is adored and given every opportunity, Marabel is overlooked and has to practice her sword fighting in secret.

    But on the night of their thirteenth birthday, Marco is kidnapped by an evil queen, and Marabel runs to his rescue. Outside the castle walls for the first time, accompanied by her best friend and a very smug unicorn, Marabel embarks on a daring mission that brings her face-to-face with fairies, trolls, giants--and the possibility that all is not as it seems in Magikos.

    Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett | Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | 9780316433990

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  • Promise by Minrose Gwin


    In the aftermath of a devastating tornado that rips through the town of Tupelo, Mississippi at the height of the Great Depression, two women worlds apart—one black, one white; one a great-grandmother, the other a teenager—fight for their families’ survival in this lyrical and powerful novel with the emotional power of the works of Jesmyn Ward, Christina Baker Kline, Jayne Anne Phillips, Sue Monk Kidd, and Tom Franklin

    A few minutes after 9 p.m. on Palm Sunday, April 5, 1936, a massive funnel cloud flashing a giant fireball and roaring like a run-away train careened into the thriving cotton-mill town of Tupelo, in northeastern Mississippi. Measured as an F5—the highest on the Fujita scale—the tornado killed more than 200 people, not counting an unknown number of black citizens, one-third of Tupelo’s population, who were not included in the official casualty figures.

    When the tornado hits, Dovey, a local laundress, is flung by the terrifying winds into a nearby lake. Bruised and nearly drowned, she makes her way across Tupelo to find her small family—her hard-working husband, Virgil, her clever sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Dreama, and Promise, Dreama’s beautiful light-skinned three-month-old son.

    Slowly navigating the broken streets of Tupelo, Dovey stops at the house of the despised McNabb family. Dovey hates Judge Mort NcNabb, a powerful man who cannot control his eldest son, a violent and sadistic youth who has left his mark on her own family, linking their fates. Inside, she discovers that the tornado has spared no one. The mother, Alice, a schoolteacher, is severely injured. The shell-shocked judge has gone to look for baby Tommy, blown from Alice’s arms. And Jo, the McNabbs’ dutiful teenage daughter, has suffered a terrible head wound. When Jo later discovers a baby in the wreckage, she is certain that she’s found her baby brother, Tommy, and vows to protect him.

    During the harrowing hours and days of the chaos that follows, Jo and Dovey will struggle to navigate a landscape of disaster and battle both the demons and the history that link and haunt them.

    Drawing on historical events, Minrose Gwin beautifully imagines natural and human destruction in the deep South of the 1930s through the experiences of two remarkable women whose lives are indelibly connected by forces beyond their control. A story of loss, hope, despair, grit, courage, and race, Promise reminds us of the transformative power and promise that comes from confronting our most troubled relations with one another.

    Promise by Minrose Gwin | William Morrow | 9780062471710

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  • Robicheaux by James Lee Burke


    James Lee Burke’s most beloved character, Dave Robicheaux, returns in this gritty, atmospheric mystery set in the towns and backwoods of Louisiana.


    Between his recurrent nightmares about Vietnam, his battle with alcoholism, and the sudden loss of his beloved wife, Molly, his thoughts drift from one irreconcilable memory to the next. Images of ghosts at Spanish Lake live on the edge of his vision.

    During a murder investigation, Dave Robicheaux discovers he may have committed the homicide he’s investigating, one which involved the death of the man who took the life of Dave’s beloved wife. As he works to clear his name and make sense of the murder, Robicheaux encounters a cast of characters and a resurgence of dark social forces that threaten to destroy all of those whom he loves. What emerges is not only a propulsive and thrilling novel, but a harrowing study of America: this nation’s abiding conflict between a sense of past grandeur and a legacy of shame, its easy seduction by demagogues and wealth, and its predilection for violence and revenge. James Lee Burke has returned with one of America’s favorite characters, in his most searing, most prescient novel to date.

    Robicheaux by James Lee Burke | Simon & Schuster | 9781501176845

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  • Steal Away Home by Billy Coffey

    Steal Away Home

    A breathtaking and poignant story of lost love, second chances, and the power of returning home by Indie-favorite author, Billy Coffey.

    Owen Cross grew up with two loves: one a game, the other a girl. One of those loves ruined him. Now he's counting on the other to save him.

    Baseball always came easy for Owen Cross. His innate talents were honed beneath the stiff hand of a father who wanted nothing more than for his son to succeed where he had failed. The girl was a little more complicated. Owen loved Micky Dullahan from the first time they met, on a lonely hill overlooking the depressed area where her troubled family had always lived. But she was from the wrong side of the tracks, and so that spot became their haven, the one place they could be together without worry of class or reputation.

    Owen's career progresses just as everyone expects: college, the minors, even a few stints in the big leagues. But it is on a major league field that he has the epiphany that he has always given everything to baseball-and yet it cannot love him back.

    Micky's advice comes back to haunt him. "You've got a second chance to love what will always love you back." And so he returns home to that hill, to the last place he ever saw her, finally ready to stop running away.

    Steal Away Home by Billy Coffey | Thomas Nelson | 9780718084448

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  • The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce

    The Afterlives

    A love story that asks: what happens after we die? The debut novel from National Book Award 5 Under 35 Winner and author of the “ridiculously good” (New York Times) collection Hall of Small Mammals.

    Jim Byrd died. Technically. For a few minutes. The diagnosis: heart attack at age thirty. Revived with no memory of any tunnels, lights, or angels, Jim wonders what—if anything—awaits us on the other side.

    Then a ghost shows up. Maybe. Jim and his new wife, Annie, find themselves tangling with holograms, psychics, messages from the beyond, and a machine that connects the living and the dead. As Jim and Annie journey through history and fumble through faith, they confront the specter of loss that looms for anyone who dares to fall in love. Funny, fiercely original, and gracefully moving, The Afterlives will haunt you. In a good way.

    The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce | Riverhead Books | 9781594632532

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  • The Hush by John Hart

    The Hush

    Set in the world of his most beloved novel The Last Child (“A magnificent creation” —The Washington Post), John Hart delivers a stunning vision of a secret world, rarely seen.

    It’s been ten years since the events that changed Johnny Merrimon’s life and rocked his hometown to the core. Since then, Johnny has fought to maintain his privacy, but books have been written of his exploits; he has fans, groupies. Living alone in the wilderness beyond town, Johnny’s only connection to normal life is his old friend, Jack. They’re not boys anymore, but the bonds remain. What they shared. What they lost.

    But Jack sees danger in the wild places Johnny calls home; he senses darkness and hunger, an intractable intent. Johnny will discuss none of it, but there are the things he knows, the things he can do. A lesser friend might accept such abilities as a gift, but Jack has felt what moves in the swamp: the cold of it, the unspeakable fear.

    Building on the world first seen in The Last Child, The Hush is more than an exploration of friendship, persistence and forgotten power. It takes the reader to unexpected places, and reminds us all why John Hart, after five consecutive New York Times bestsellers, still warrants comparison to such luminaries as Pat Conroy, Cormac McCarthy, and Scott Turow.

    The Hush by John Hart | St. Martin’s Press | 9781250012302

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  • The Past is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson

    The Past is Never

    A compelling addition to contemporary Southern Gothic fiction, deftly weaving together local legends, magical realism, and a missing child.

    A compelling addition to contemporary Southern Gothic fiction, deftly weaving together local legends, magical realism, and the search for a missing child.

    Siblings Bert, Willet, and Pansy know better than to go swimming at the old rock quarry. According to their father, it's the Devil's place, a place that's been cursed and forgotten. But Mississippi Delta summer days are scorching hot and they can't resist cooling off in the dark, bottomless water. Until the day six-year-old Pansy vanishes. Not drowned, not lost...simply gone. When their father disappears as well, Bert and Willet leave their childhoods behind to try and hold their broken family together.

    Years pass with no sign, no hope of ever finding Pansy alive, and as surely as their mother died of a broken heart, Bert and Willet can't move on. So when clues surface drawing them to the remote tip of Florida, they drop everything and drive south. Deep in the murky depths of the Florida Everglades they may find the answer to Pansy's mysterious disappearance...but truth, like the past, is sometimes better left where it lies. 

    Perfect for fans of Flannery O'Connor and Dorothy Allison, The Past Is Never is an atmospheric, haunting story of myths, legends, and the good and evil we carry in our hearts.

    The Past is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson | Skyhorse Publishing | 9781510726826

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  • The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd

    The Problim Children

    From the New York Times bestselling author of A Snicker of Magic and The Key to Extraordinary comes a new middle grade series about seven strange siblings all born on a different day of the week and the neighbors who keep trying to tear their family apart. When the Problim children’s ramshackle bungalow in the Swampy Woods goes kaboom, the seven siblings and their pet pig have no choice but to move into their Grandpa’s abandoned old mansion in Lost Cove. No problem! For the Problim children, every problem is a gift.

    Wendell and Thea—twins born two minutes apart on a Wednesday and a Thursday—see the move as a chance to make new friends in time for their birthday cake smash. But the neighbors find the Problims’ return problematic—what with Sal’s foggy garden full of Wrangling Ivy, toddler Toot’s 365 stanktastic fart varieties, and Mona’s human catapult.

    Truth be told, rumors are flying about the Problims! Rumors of a bitter feud, a treasure, and a certain kind of magic lingering in the halls of #7 Main Street. And the neighbors will do anything to get their hands on those secrets—including sending the Problim children to seven different homes on seven different continents!

    With a snicker of Lemony Snicket, a dollop of the Addams Family, and a healthy dose of charm, The Problim Children is an unforgettable tale about adventure, family, and finding the courage to tackle any problem heart-first.

    The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd | Katherine Tegen Books | 9780062428202

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  • The Road to Bittersweet by Donna Everhart

    The Road to Bittersweet

    Set in the Carolinas in the 1940s, The Road to Bittersweet is a beautifully written, evocative account of a young woman reckoning not just with the unforgiving landscape, but with the rocky emotional terrain that leads from innocence to wisdom.

    For fourteen-year-old Wallis Ann Stamper and her family, life in the Appalachian Mountains is simple and satisfying, though not for the tenderhearted. While her older sister, Laci—a mute, musically gifted savant—is constantly watched over and protected, Wallis Ann is as practical and sturdy as her name. When the Tuckasegee River bursts its banks, forcing them to flee in the middle of the night, those qualities save her life. But though her family is eventually reunited, the tragedy opens Wallis Ann’s eyes to a world beyond the creek that’s borne their name for generations.

    Carrying what’s left of their possessions, the Stampers begin another perilous journey from their ruined home to the hill country of South Carolina. Wallis Ann’s blossoming friendship with Clayton, a high diving performer for a traveling show, sparks a new opportunity, and the family joins as a singing group. But Clayton’s attention to Laci drives a wedge between the two sisters. As jealousy and betrayal threaten to accomplish what hardship never could—divide the family for good—Wallis Ann makes a decision that will transform them all in unforeseeable ways…

    The Road to Bittersweet by Donna Everhart | Kensington | 9781496709493

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  • Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry

    Under a Cloudless Sky

    A charming and engrossing novel for fans of Southern fiction and the recent hit memoir Hillbilly Elegy about a lush and storied coal-mining town—and the good people who live there—in danger of being destroyed for the sake of profit. Will the truth about the town’s past be its final undoing or its saving grace?

    1933. In the mining town of Beulah Mountain, West Virginia, two young girls form an unbreakable bond against the lush Appalachian landscape, coal dust and old hymns filling their lungs and hearts. Despite the polarizing forces of their fathers—one a mine owner, one a disgruntled miner —Ruby and Bean thrive under the tender care of Bean’s mama, blissfully unaware of the rising conflict in town and the coming tragedy that will tear them apart forever.

    2004. Hollis Beasley is taking his last stand. Neighbors up and down the hollow have sold their land to Coleman Coal and Energy, but Hollis is determined to hold on to his family legacy on Beulah Mountain. Standing in his way is Buddy Coleman, an upstart mining executive who hopes to revitalize the dying town by increasing coal production and opening the Company Store Museum. He’ll pay homage to the past—even the massacre of 1933—while positioning the company for growth at all costs.

    What surprises them all is how their stories will intersect with a feisty octogenarian living hundreds of miles away. When Ruby Handley Freeman’s grown children threaten her independence, she takes a stand of her own and disappears, propelling her on a journey to face a decades-old secret that will change everything for her and those she meets.

    Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry | Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. | 9781496428288

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  • Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith

    Whiskey & Ribbons

    For fans of The Mothers Leesa Cross-Smith's anticipated novel following a contemporary African American family caught in the wake of a tragic police shooting.

    Set in contemporary Louisville, Leesa Cross-Smith’s mesmerizing first novel surrounding the death of a police officer is a requiem for marriage, friendship and family, from an author Roxane Gay has called “a consummate storyteller.”

    Evi—a classically-trained ballerina—was nine months pregnant when her husband Eamon was killed in the line of duty on a steamy morning in July. Now, it is winter, and Eamon's adopted brother Dalton has moved in to help her raise six-month-old Noah.

    Whiskey & Ribbons is told in three intertwining, melodic voices: Evi in present day, as she’s snowed in with Dalton during a freak blizzard; Eamon before his murder, as he prepares for impending fatherhood and grapples with the danger of his profession; and Dalton, as he struggles to make sense of his life next to Eamon’s, and as he decides to track down the biological father he’s never known.

    In the vein of Jojo Moyes’ After You, Whiskey & Ribbons explores the life that continues beyond loss, with a complicated brotherly dynamic reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys. It’s a meditation on grief, hope, motherhood, brotherhood and surrogate fatherhood. Above all, it’s a novel about what it means—and whether it’s possible—to heal.

    Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith | Hub City Press | 9781938235382

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