Book spines by Caitlin Shetterly, Rebekah Bergman, and Kelly McWilliams.
Photo: Erik Gould
The Arts

Fresh Ink for November–December 2023
Books by Caitlin Shetterly ’97, Rebekah Bergman ’11, and Kelly McWilliams ’10.

By Edward Hardy / November–December 2023
November 8th, 2023

Pete and Alice in Maine by Caitlin Shetterly ’97 (Harper Collins)

It’s 2020 and Alice and Pete flee Manhattan with their young daughters, Iris and Sophie, escaping to their oceanfront second home near Blue Hill. For Alice, whose writerly hopes have been flattened by parenting, this seems a safe course. Pete, who toils in finance and has been having an affair, is less sure. They head up I-95 along with the fault lines of their marriage. But their frightened Maine neighbors fell two trees across their driveway so the family will stay quarantined, and things barely improve after that. This debut reads like a sharp report from the near past as Alice and Pete struggle to find the way forward.

The Museum of Human History by Rebekah Bergman ’11 (Tin House)

Eight-year-old Maeve Wilhelm survived a near drowning, but it left her in an odd coma where as the years pass she does not age. Then Maeve’s mom, Naomi, a researcher for a biotech company that is bent on releasing a cure for aging, drowns. Her death could be connected to a mysterious red algae that the company is investigating—as could Maeve’s decades-long sleep. This spiraling, speculative debut wrestles with questions of pain, memory, and loss using a broad cast of characters including an entomologist, a performance artist, and Maeve’s identical twin, whose narratives intertwine as the story bounces through time. A lyrical, philosophical ride with sci-fi overtones and a mystery at its core.

Your Plantation Prom Is Not Okay by Kelly McWilliams ’10 (Little Brown for Young Readers)

Harriet Douglass is a Black Louisiana high school senior living on a former sugarcane plantation that her parents have turned into a museum highlighting the stories of the families who were enslaved there. Harriet has been a Westwood tour guide since she turned fifteen—which she loves, even if it sometimes feels as if history is collapsing in around her—and she’s still reeling from her mom’s recent death. When a soap opera star buys the plantation next door with plans to turn it into a wedding venue, Harriet is determined to stop the plan. The stakes quickly escalate after her school books a prom there. Harriet’s lively, deftly nuanced voice makes this a quick and satisfying YA read.

Alumni Nonfiction

The Savvy Ally: A Guide for Becoming A Skilled LGBTQ+ Advocate by Jeannie Gainsburg ’85 (Rowman & Littlefield)
American Purgatory: Prison Imperialism and the Rise of Mass Incarceration by Benjamin D. Weber ’08 MAT (The New Press)

Alumni Fiction

Leonor: The Story of a Lost Childhood by Paula Delgado-Kling ’97 (OR Books)
Kind Mirrors, Ugly Ghosts by Claire Donato ’10 MFA (Simon & Schuster)
Coming Again by Roger Vaughan ’59 (Coptank Word Bank)

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Related Issue
November–December 2023