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June 2017 Indie Next List
“Eighteen years after high school junior Jess Winters vanished without a trace from Sycamore, Arizona, human bones are found near where Jess was last seen alive. Everyone in the small community, from family to friends to teachers, was profoundly affected by the unsolved mystery. Told from multiple points of view, this deeply moving story explores the fateful events that led to Jess' disappearance and slowly reveals the mistakes, secrets, and regrets, but also the humanity and the good, that reside in each of the characters. Heart-wrenching and compassionate in the manner of Kent Haruf's stories, this is a flawless first novel.”
— Pierre Camy (W), Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI
"In this masterful performance, Bryn Chancellor explores the loss around which an entire community has calcified with humanity and wisdom. Chancellor digs deep in these pages, unearthing broken hearts, secrets, betrayals, passion and--most impressively--grace. What a joy to find a book that is both propulsive and perfectly composed."--Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest
An award-winning writer makes her debut with this mesmerizing page-turner in the spirit of Everything I Never Told You and Olive Kitteridge.
Out for a hike one scorching afternoon in Sycamore, Arizona, a newcomer to town stumbles across what appear to be human remains embedded in the wall of a dry desert ravine. As news of the discovery makes its way around town, Sycamore's longtime residents fear the bones may belong to Jess Winters, the teenage girl who disappeared suddenly some eighteen years earlier, an unsolved mystery that has soaked into the porous rock of the town and haunted it ever since. In the days it takes the authorities to make an identification, the residents rekindle stories, rumors, and recollections both painful and poignant as they revisit Jess's troubled history. In resurrecting the past, the people of Sycamore will find clarity, unexpected possibility, and a way forward for their lives.
Skillfully interweaving multiple points of view, Bryn Chancellor knowingly maps the bloodlines of a community and the indelible characters at its heart--most notably Jess Winters, a thoughtful, promising adolescent poised on the threshold of adulthood. Evocative and atmospheric, Sycamore is a coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a moving exploration of the elemental forces that drive human nature--desire, loneliness, grief, love, forgiveness, and hope--as witnessed through the inhabitants of one small Arizona town.