Margaret Murphy is a natural-born weaver of fantastic tales, growing up in a world where the truth is too much for one little girl to endure. Margaret’s first memory is of the day she locked her friend in an old cooler and then ran away in terror when she couldn’t get the lid back open. Her friend died. No one ever blamed Margaret for the incident—not in so many words—but in the aftermath, Margaret receives either euphemistic platitudes or subtle suspicion. Left on her own to make sense of this tragedy, Margaret invents ever more imaginative and superstitious fictions as a way to avoid thinking about what she has done. The only one in her life who forces Margaret to face the truth is Poor Deer, a vengeful creature who insists that Margaret tame her temptation to give every story a happy ending. When teenage Margaret flees home in the aftermath of another loss, Poor Deer offers her the sudden chance to atone for her sins. Poor Deer orders Margaret to commit an act that she promises will sweep the ledger clean. But is Poor Deer’s offer to be trusted? Or is it another made-up tale, too good to be true? Heartrending and boldly imagined, Poor Deer explores the journey toward understanding who we once were and the stories we tell ourselves to help make sense of life’s most difficult moments.
An exhilarating, provocative novel of motherhood in extremis. Tiny is pregnant. Her husband is delighted. “You think this baby is going to be like you, but it’s not like you at all,” she warns him. “This baby is an owl-baby.” When Chouette is born small and broken-winged, Tiny works around the clock to meet her daughter’s needs. Left on her own to care for a child who seems more predatory bird than baby, Tiny vows to raise Chouette to be her authentic self. Even in those times when Chouette’s behaviors grow violent and strange, Tiny’s loving commitment to her daughter is unwavering. When she discovers that her husband is on an obsessive and increasingly dangerous quest to find a “cure” for their daughter, Tiny must decide whether Chouette should be raised to fit in or to be herself—and learn what it truly means to be a mother. Arresting, darkly funny, and unsettling, Chouette is a brilliant exploration of ambition, sacrifice, perceptions of ability, and the ferocity of motherly love.