Hot with violent urgency, and shrouded in the moss and fog of the rural Northwest, Vera Violet opens with the eponymous Vera on the run someplace deep in Montana, and does not let up until the final page. In between is something like the root system of a tall cedar, or the wiring Harness on an old pickup: tangled at first glance, but intricate as soon as you start to trace it. This is an unforgettable novel.
Set against the backdrop of a decaying Pacific Northwest lumber town, Vera Violet is a debut that explores themes of poverty, violence, and environmental degradation as played out in the young lives of a group of close-knit friends. Melissa Anne Peterson's voice is powerful and poetic, her vision unflinching.Vera Violet recounts the dark story of a rough group of teenagers growing up in a twisted rural logging town. There are no jobs. There is no sense of safety. But there is a small group of loyal friends, a truck waiting with the engine running, a pair of boots covered in blood, and a hot 1911 pistol with a pearl grip. Vera Violet O'Neel's home is in the Pacific Northwest--not the glamorous scene of coffee bars and craft beers, but the hardscrabble region of busted pickups and broken dreams. Vera's mother has left, her father is unstable, and her brother is deeply troubled. Against this gritty background, Vera struggles to establish a life of her own, a life fortified by her friends and her hard-won love. But the relentless poverty coupled with the twin lures of crystal meth and easy money soon shatter fragile alliances. Her world violently torn apart, Vera flees to St. Louis, Missouri. There, alone in a small apartment, she grieves for her broken family, her buried friends, and her beloved, Jimmy James Blood. In this brilliant, explosive debut, Melissa Anne Peterson establishes herself as a fresh, raw voice, a writer to be reckoned with. Vera Violet is the most authentic and exciting debut I've read in a long time. At once gritty and jaw-droppingly lyrical, Peterson's voice is a clarion call for the downtrodden and disenchanted. Reading Vera Violet is nothing less than a visceral and stirring experience. --Jonathan Evison, author of Lawn Boy
About the Author
Melissa Anne Peterson grew up in a rainy working-class logging town in Washington State. She received a BA and BS in writing and biology from The Evergreen State College and an MS from the University of Montana. She has worked in endangered species recovery in Washington and Montana for twelve years. Her writing has been published by Camas Magazine, Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, Oregon Quarterly, and Seal Press. Find out more at melissaannepeterson.com.