The Year of Needy Girls by Patricia A. Smith
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Kaylie Jones Books (January 3, 2017)
Pre-Order on Amazon
A young boy’s murder unleashes chaos in the life of a schoolteacher and a small New England town.
Bradley, Massachusetts is in many ways a typical small New England town, but a river divides it in half—on one side, the East End: crowded triple-deckers, the Most Precious Blood parish, and a Brazilian immigrant community; and on the other, the West End: renovated Victorians, Brandywine Academy, and families with last names as venerable as the Mayflower.
Deirdre Murphy and her partner Sara Jane (SJ) Edmonds have just moved to their first house—and for the first time are open in their relationship—in the West End, where Deirdre teaches at Brandywine Academy. A dedicated teacher from a working-class background, she is well loved by her students. But the murder of ten-year-old Leo Rivera from the East End changes everything—for Deirdre and SJ, for the girls at Brandywine, and for all of Bradley. And when Deirdre is falsely accused of sexually molesting one of her students, the entire town erupts.
“The Year of Needy Girls is a study in hypocrisy and small-town secrets. Patricia A. Smith’s contemporary witch hunt north of Boston is a collision of The Children’s Hour and Mystic River.”
—Stewart O’Nan, author of Songs for the Missing
“Smith conveys the impact of this prejudicial hostility on two young women who are struggling to make their way in an intolerant world with a tender and delicate understanding in this nuanced tale of identity and misperception, connection and alienation.” —Booklist
“The Year of Needy Girls is as much about how fear can cloud our perceptions of both self and other as it is about the persistent search for love and home. Patricia A. Smith’s vision is at once keen and generous.”
—Elizabeth Graver, author of The End of the Point
“This is one of those compulsively readable novels that keeps you up far too late at night. A thrum of dread begins on the opening pages, and yet the two heroines are so compassionately drawn, so understandably flawed, that you keep hoping, against all reason, that nothing will happen to them. Patricia A. Smith’s portrait of a paranoid community is gripping: a Salem of the twenty-first century.”
—Suzanne Berne, author of the The Dogs of Littlefield
Patricia (Patty) Smith has been teaching American Literature and Creative Writing at the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School in Petersburg, VA since 2006. A native New Englander, she received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her nonfiction has appeared in the anthologies One Teacher in Ten: Gay and Lesbian Educators Tell Their Stories (Alyson Publications, 1994); Tied in Knots: Funny Stories from the Wedding Day (Seal Press, 2006); Something to Declare: Good Lesbian Travel Writing, (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009) and One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium: LGBT Teachers Discuss What Has Gotten Better…and What Hasn’t (Beacon Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in such places as Salon; Broad Street: A New Magazine of True Stories; Prime Number: A Distinctive Journal of Poetry and Prose, Gris-Gris, An Online Journal Of Literature, Culture, and the Arts; The Tusculum Review, and So to Speak: a journal of feminist language and literature. The Year of Needy Girls is her first novel.