“Funny yet bitingly realistic look at small-town life…A grim literary mystery and a hopeful family story, this genre-blending novel manages to be both charming and heartbreaking.” —Kirkus
“An enthralling suspense thriller…Exquisite prose matches deep characterization. Kennedy deserves to win an Edgar.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
Sometimes, a woman has to rescue herself.
Jenny Newberg, Queen of Bad Decisions, is about to make another one. In a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business, down-on-her-luck single mother Jenny is on a first-name basis with the debt collector at the bank, who is moving toward foreclosure. She is constantly apologizing to her precocious young daughter, Billie Starr, who is filling a book with her mother’s sorries, and it seems to Jenny that no apology will ever be enough.
Then a pair of strangers in black suits offers her a hefty check to seduce someone known as the Candidate. Finally, something will go her way.
But nothing ever goes as Jenny plans, and she is swept into the Candidate’s orbit. Surrounded by a wide universe of new ideas, she realizes how constrained her life has been by the expectations of everyone around her, and she starts to see how much more she might be capable of. And when her world is rocked to its core and Billie Starr may be in danger, Jenny is forced to do what she once thought impossible: trust in herself and her own power to make things right.
Shimmering with rage and sparkling with subtle humor, Billie Starr's Book of Sorries showcases Edgar Award-nominee Deborah E. Kennedy's singular voice and shines a light on the town of Benson, Indiana, where lakes, grudges, and family rifts run deep – but so does a mother’s love.
“Billie Starr’s Book of Sorries is by turns sweet, sad and funny. Much of its charm emanates from its diminutive co-star...Jenny abandons her apologetic stance and transforms into an assertive, heroic figure worthy of the real blessings she at last comes to accept.”
—Wall Street Journal
“An enthralling suspense thriller…Exquisite prose matches deep characterization. Kennedy deserves to win an Edgar with this captivating sophomore effort.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Funny yet bitingly realistic look at small-town life…Kennedy excels at writing quirky characters and entertaining dialogue...A grim literary mystery and a hopeful family story, this genre-blending novel manages to be both charming and heartbreaking.”
“Adeptly delves into the intricacies of interpersonal relationships within small-town life, much like Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge.”
“Billie Starr’s Book of Sorries is a book of righteous anger, a book of hard-earned hope, a book of laugh-out-loud humor, and, above all, a book of deep love—between mother and daughter, neighbor and friend, barback and grocer and a delightful cast of unlikely small-town bedfellows—but mostly between the reader and these wonderful pages.”
—Laurie Frankel, bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is
“Beautifully realized characters, both good and dangerous, populate the novel…This book will also break your heart. But trust in yourself to have hope for Jenny Newberg. She deserves it.”
—Deadly Pleasures, rating: A
“Compelling, compassionate, and deliciously comic, Billie Starr’s Book of Sorries is the story of a struggling single mother who makes some highly questionable choices—and falls in with some pretty low companions—to provide for her precocious (and hilarious) young daughter. Deborah Kennedy’s writing is so smart and vigorous and big-souled, I loved every moment spent with these beleaguered but resilient humans who, like the best of us, somehow, exhilaratingly, muddle through.”
—Michelle Huneven, NBCC and LA Times Book Award finalist and author of Search and Off Course
"Billie Starr’s Book of Sorries is such an incredibly touching dive into the world of a struggling single mom who has to make bad decisions for the good of her daughter. This book is searingly honest about small town life, and the claustrophobia that comes with it. There are no bad people, just bad choices. Loved reading this, and can’t wait for more from Deborah Kennedy!" —Amina Akhtar, author of Kismet and #FashionVictim
“A heartfelt and expertly crafted exploration of motherhood and finding the shimmering possibilities in oneself. Kennedy’s writing cuts open small-town Midwestern America, delivering grit, gossip, and generational relationships that bleed through a life both as an anchor of familiarity and as a shackle against hope. A deeply empathetic and nuanced second novel, which solidifies Kennedy as a master of illuminating the intricacies, mythos, and pain of Main Street USA.”
—Sequoia Nagamatsu, bestselling author of How High We Go in the Dark
“A rollicking, zany novel about a single mother scraping by in small town America that examines the politics of power, beauty, and family.”
—Ash Davidson, acclaimed author of Damnation Spring