Wild Ground

A Novel

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Pub Date 04 Jun 2024 | Archive Date 04 Aug 2024

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Description

A story of first love that will break your heart, this bittersweet debut novel follows two teenagers whose all-consuming relationship is tested by the forces of class, prejudice, and addiction.

“Reading this book is like holding a heartbeat in your hands.”—Amy Jo Burns, author of Mercury


There were parts that were bliss, there were parts that were full and faultless and laden with joy. The way everything Danny and I did, everything we felt, we did, we felt together. The way we loved and loved and loved each other.

From the beginning, it has always been Neef and her mother, Chrissy—troubled, beautiful, at the mercy of addiction and a revolving door of bad relationships. When Neef turns twelve, they move from inner-city Leeds to a small Yorkshire town to follow Chrissy’s much-older boyfriend, who runs the local pub. But for Neef, perhaps it’s also a chance to start over. On her first day in her new home, it becomes Neef and Danny, the boy who captures her attention planting flowers in the pub garden—and then, it is somehow always Danny.

Danny is seen as an outsider by those around him; half Jamaican, he and his father are the only people of color in their community. Immediately drawn to each other, Neef and Danny form a friendship that gives way to the slow burn of romance as they grow up. Desperate to escape the confines of their world, Neef and Danny cling to each other throughout their adolescence, even as their relationship strains against the same forces that hold their families hostage: substance abuse, poverty, racism. For a while, though, it seems like it could be Neef and Danny forever.

But then, finally, it is just Neef: sober, living in London, trying to tell herself she never knew a boy called Danny, never loved him, never had him wrenched away. That is, until someone from those days comes seeking redemption, and she cannot pretend any longer.

Braiding together past and present, Wild Ground introduces us to a young woman both coming of age and coming to terms with herself. This tender and moving debut, at once heartbreaking and hopeful, is an aching love story that you will find impossible to forget.
A story of first love that will break your heart, this bittersweet debut novel follows two teenagers whose all-consuming relationship is tested by the forces of class, prejudice, and addiction.

...

Advance Praise

"Reading this book is like holding a heartbeat in your hands. It's bare, melodic, and thrums with a bold and aching pulse. I couldn't look away from Neef and Danny, the untamed and sacrificial love they share in a violent world. This is a hypnotic story of both beauty and betrayal, one that will settle beneath your skin and set fire to your soul." –Amy Jo Burns, author of Mercury

“Emily Usher is a wonderfully restrained and unfailingly compassionate storyteller, and she has written a deep and all-around beautiful debut novel. Wild Ground is a love story that captures the realities of being young and oppressed—yet hopeful and searching. It is honest and so touching as to be heartbreaking.” –Beth Raymer, author of Fireworks Every Night

Wild Ground is a novel for anyone who remembers the intensity and vagaries of first love or has ever fought for survival against stacked odds. Emily Usher has written an aching coming-of-age story that is heartbreaking and profound, gorgeous and unforgettable about two teenagers’ struggle to thrive in a small English town. This book shimmers with longing. It beautifully encapsulates the powerlessness of adolescence against forces of poverty, discrimination, and addiction and the ways a lost first love can haunt someone forever.” –Mary Lowry, author of The Roxy Letters

“Written in a fresh northern vernacular tinged with romanticism and regret, Wild Ground is an intoxicating debut from a compelling new voice.” –Adelle Stripe, author of Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile

Wild Ground is a heart-breaking tale of love and loss, and as addictive as Normal People. But, more than that: a thought-provoking examination of how racism pervades and causes harm, how our histories haunt us, and how dreams grow and wither. A propulsive, gut-wrenching read.” –Jenna Clake, author of Disturbance

“It’s incredible and I couldn’t put it down… Emily Usher’s writing is extraordinary.” –Carmen Marcus, author of How Saints Die

"Reading this book is like holding a heartbeat in your hands. It's bare, melodic, and thrums with a bold and aching pulse. I couldn't look away from Neef and Danny, the untamed and sacrificial love...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780593731291
PRICE $29.00 (USD)
PAGES 432

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