Sidle Creek
Reading Recommendations

Sidle Creek

Yesterday was the release date of Sidle Creek, the debut story collection by Jolene McIlwain (Melville House). 

“Set in the bruised, mined, and timbered hills of Appalachia in western Pennsylvania, Sidle Creek is a tender, truthful exploration of a small town and the people who live there, told by a brilliant new voice in fiction..”

From the author’s website.

I started reading this collection before it came out, because that’s the privilege of book reviewers. And although I’m still working on a full-blown critique, I can already say that the work blew me away. 

In a traditionally male-dominated environment of hunters and fishermen, McIlwain zeros in on unexpected tenderness, on a motherless thirteen-year-old girl who suffers from endometriosis, and on four girls obsessed with keeping the baby of a high-risk pregnant neighbor alive. Her poetic descriptions turn the farms and forests into magical places where even an outsider like me can feel at home. Yet she also dares to show the ugly sides of rural western Pennsylvania, where the author grew up and lives.

As one character expresses it:

“I know I have to hop in my car and drive far as I can get if I want to ever be anything that ain’t a few steps away from crazy.” 

From Sidle Creek by Jolene McIlwain.

I recommend you get yourself a copy of Sidle Creek!

My recommendations of other short story collections:

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