The Ghost Daughter, an adult literary novel forthcoming from Coffeetown Press in July 2016.
In 1971, a wounded young man runs with his daughter in the woods at night. As he collapses, he tells the little girl to run, and she does.
Eighteen years later, in October 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake buries twenty-two-year-old Angel Kelley under a collapsed building. Her adopted mother Judith is diagnosed with cancer while her deepest secrets surface in national news. In nearby Silicon Valley, Reese Camden loses her husband in an accident that kills him and critically injures their five-year-old daughter Madison.
As news images of Angel’s rescue emerge, Detective Laura Redleaf recognizes Judith from an unsolved missing child case. She travels to Santa Cruz and learns from Judith that Reese is actually Angel’s biological mother Teresa, who has always known that Judith had her child. But Teresa has already fled and reinvented herself yet again, leaving her second daughter Madison in the hospital. Facing a kidnapping charge, Judith refuses medical treatment and bars Angel from visiting her in prison.
For life to move forward, Teresa must reclaim her identity and confront her terrible past. In the end, it will take more than tons of rubble to crush the spirits of these four strong-willed women as they fight for their families, seek redemption, and find love.
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Praise for The Ghost Daughter
“The west coast has always been the last best place, a region equal parts Eden and earthquake. In Maureen O’Leary’s hands, that landscape is charged with mystery, disaster, and a wealth of drama, all headed by a cast of irrepressible women. The Ghost Daughter is that rare and fabled beast: the literary page-turner.” —Christian Kiefer, Pushcart Prize winner, and author of Infinite Tides and The Animals
“Two parts thriller, one part meditation on the nature of love and motherhood, and one part poem, The Ghost Daughter combines masterful storytelling and artistic language to create a breathtaking work of literary suspense. Peopled with human monsters, mortal ghosts, and lost maidens, The Ghost Daughter plays out like a modern fairy tale, a linguistic aria written in praise of the power of reinvention, resurrection, and redemption. As eviscerating as it is lovely, The Ghost Daughter is not to be missed.” —Tawni Waters, Housatonic Book Award winner, author of Beauty of the Broken
“In The Ghost Daughter, O’Leary weaves through memory and loss (and thick golden strands of fairy tale) to invoke a world of mythology and monsters where, as it turns out, every player is only a person, flawed and damaged; ultimately hopeful. O’Leary’s writing glows.”-Tricia Stirling, author of When My Heart Was Wicked
“In The Ghost Daughter, Maureen O’Leary writes honestly and beautifully. Her characters come alive, and her wise and subtle insights on them—and on the human condition—will stay with the reader long after the last page of the novel.”—Jamie Kain, author of The Good Sister and Instructions for the End of the World
“In the fragile landscape of Northern California, Maureen O’Leary excavates her characters’ hearts with precise honesty, exploring the ways connections between mothers and daughters, friends and lovers stretch, break, endure. A beautiful and moving book.” –Karen E. Bender, National Book Award finalist and author of Refund, Like Normal People, Choice, and A Town of Empty Rooms