Next year, University of Iowa Press will publish my second novel, The Tigers of Lents, which I worked on over the course of twelve years.
The novel shows a seldom seen side of Portland, Oregon. It’s a family saga set mainly in Lents, an outer neighborhood not found in hip magazines or TV shows.
Sara is the eldest teenage daughter, a fiery soccer star scared to take the way out offered by her talent. Next is Elaine, shy and obese, who might have the grandest dreams of them all and takes an after-school job at Chuck E. Cheese's. The youngest sister, Rachel, is a reader and poet whose imagination stalls at trying to picture a better life. The girls’ hard-edged mother, Melanie, works full-time as a grocery store cashier and is divorced from the girls' father, Keith, who returns to Lents and tries to rebuild his relationship with his wary daughters after serving a six-year prison term for burglary.
Even as the Garrisons struggle to communicate with each other and to face the crashing of worlds they routinely experience beyond their neighborhood, as they battle with self-doubts in their quest for better lives, they draw on a fierce shared strength — an innate self-reliance that allows them to push back at the reality that's been handed to them.
The Tigers of Lents depicts a part of American life not often well-understood — that collision of worlds, the complexities of poverty mindsets. It shows how three sisters struggle to hold onto their dignity, often through acts of grace and good humor, to say nothing of quiet grit, and how they don’t like to be underestimated. How do they deal with a dismissive wider world and the haunting legacy of their parents’ crumbled dreams?
To those of you who have asked about my writing over the years, thanks for your faith. I look forward to sharing The Tigers of Lents.