Songbirds and Stray Dogs by Meagan Lucas
"Meagan Lucas is a brave new voice in Southern fiction. Songbirds and Stray Dogs packs a double shot of grit and heart, with a story stretching from the beaches of the Carolina Lowcountry to the Land of the Sky and a heroine who doesn’t know the word quit. An unflinching portrait of motherhood, trauma, and the family we make along the way."
—Taylor Brown, author of Gods of Howl Mountain, The River of Kings, and Fallen Land
"Meagan Lucas has woven a lush and heartwarming story of well-meaning people trying to find their way in a world that can seem fractured beyond repair. Thrust into difficult circumstances beyond their control, Jolene, Chuck, and Cash wrestle with how to escape the past and forge a path forward. From devastating setbacks to the uplifting conclusion, every moment of their memorable journey brings us closer to these characters’ true selves."
—Heather Bell Adams, author of Maranatha Road
"'Vivid' may be the best single word to sum up this book which is rich with language and description, where every paragraph offers one delicious turn of phrase after another. Poignant observations transform every day into intriguing as the author exhibits an ability to dissect human behavior down to its barest motives. Unable to escape emotional yearning for multiple characters embroiled in tragedy, I found myself both cheering and crying as either misery or triumph unfolded."
—Evan Williams, author of Ripples
Jolene Brodie was abandoned by her addict mother on the steps of her spinster aunt’s door at eight years old. She’s spent the last thirteen years living in the shadow of the pain her mother caused and trying to prove herself worthy of her aunt’s stingy love. Unintentionally she becomes pregnant. When the father refuses her and her aunt kicks her out, Jolene tries to outrun her shame by heading to the mountains. Homeless, penniless, alone, and chased by demons from her past in this new place, she makes friends who help and hinder. She is forced to confront exactly who she is, what she wants, and what she is willing to do to get it.
Set on the coast of South Carolina and the mountains of Western North Carolina, geography and a sense of place are central to Songbirds and Stray Dogs. This is a Southern story, born of sweet tea and the Bible Belt, chow-chow and cornbread, shot guns and porch rocking. But it is also a universal story of escaping the burden of your past and finding yourself at home in a strange land.
Meagan Lucas teaches English at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and is the Fiction Editor at Barren Magazine. Her stories have been published in a variety of journals including Four Ties Literary Review, Santa Fe Writers Project, The Same Literary Journal, The New Southern Fugitives, Barren Magazine, and Still: The Journal. She won the 2017 Scythe Prize for Fiction. Meagan loves: coffee, wine, houseplants, concerts, cheesecake, and bookstores. When she’s not teaching, writing, or entertaining small people, you can find her with her face in a book.