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Willy Cherrymill and his stepdaughter, Lacey, are deeply bruised by a past brimming with unanswered questions. It’s been thirty years since May DuBerry, Willy’s young wife and Lacey’s mother, abandoned them both, leaving Willy to raise Lacey alone.
Lacey Cherrymill is smart, stubborn, and focused. She’s also single mother to a young daughter recently diagnosed with a devastating illness. The last thing she needs to think about right now is the betrayal that rocked her childhood. Reluctantly, she has returned to her rural beginnings, a former dairy farm in the Maryland countryside, and to Willy, a man steeped in his own disappointments and all the guilt that goes with them.
Together they will pool their wobbly emotional resources to take care of Lacey’s daughter, Tasha, all the while trying to skirt the issue of May’s mysterious disappearance. But try as she might, Lacey can’t leave it alone. Just where is May DuBerry Cherrymill and why did she leave them, and how is it that they have never talked about the wreckage she left behind?
A Hand to Hold in Deep Water is a deeply felt narrative about mothers and daughters, the legacy of secrets, the way we make a family, and the love of those who walk us through our deepest pain. It is about the way we are tethered to one another and how we choose to wear those bindings. These are characters you won’t soon forget and, more so, won’t want to leave behind when you turn the last page.
“Beyond thrilling. Tender, fierce, achingly beautiful…Add in the clarity of the writing, its supple lyricism and wry humor, and spread the news: Shawn Nocher is a writer to watch.”
-Elise Levine, author of This Wicked Tongue
“A gorgeous…debut novel by Shawn Nocher…Tender and piercing, A Hand to Hold in Deep Water is about secrets, shame, love, and what makes a family.”
-Kim Magowan, author of The Light Source
“A rich and resonant family story, a meditative, lyrical, and deeply emotional exploration of heritage, loss, and the profundity of parental love.”
-Claire Lombardo, New York Times bestselling author
“Shawn Nocher’s vivid, quietly beautiful prose lures you into the world of this accomplished debut novel…A Hand to Hold in Deep Water is an immersive novel that’s so deeply felt, you don’t just read it, you inhabit it and then emerge from it as if from a dream.”
-Stephen McCauley, author of My Ex-Life
“There’s a wonderful sense of place in A Hand to Hold in Deep Water…[An] impressive debut…The literary world could use more tales of places other than New York City.”
-New York Journal of Books