Recent Literary Offerings from Mills Alumnae/i

Betrayal on the Bayou
By Sheryl Bizé-Boutté ’73

Bizé-Boutté’s first novel is set in the fictional Louisiana bayou town of Tassin Valley in 1854, where the ruling family enforces a peculiar version of code noir, and the rich harvests come from magical soil. The story centers around a newly widowed young man from Paris who arrives with his infant daughter, setting off a 28-year chain of events that reveal the brutal truths of inequality, colorism, and betrayal. (2020, Amazon)

Contagious Magic: Collected Poems
By Christie B. Cochrell ’77, MA ’87

The poems in Contagious Magic move back and forth among the places that have been essential to the poet’s life—New Mexico and the southwest, old Roman vestiges in northern Italy, a longtime home next to a synagogue in Northern California, and the color-drenched French countryside of artist Pierre Bonnard. As traveler, word-peddler, and celebrant of joie de vivre, the poet’s quest has been to gather luminous ingredients wherever they are found. (2020, Bay Company Books)

Haunted Heroine
By Sarah Kuhn ’99

Haunted Heroine is the fourth book in Kuhn’s Heroine Complex series, which centers around Asian American superheroines. Haunted Heroine follows superheroine Evie Tanaka, who investigates mysterious hauntings at a nearby women’s college while grappling with motherhood in her future. The setting will be eerily familiar to Mills alumnae. (2020, Penguin Randomhouse)

La Friche la Belle e Mai à Marseille
By Marta Rosenquist ’90

Adapted from her PhD dissertation completed at Aix-Marseille University, Rosenquist’s new French-language book examines a former tobacco factory that now serves as a home to other industries. She begins by retracing the history of the tobacco industry, and then explores the site’s theater companies, radio station, restaurant, and contemporary art gallery, among others. In the text, Rosenquist attempts to answer this question: What is the relationship between the indeterminate spaces of The Friche la Belle de Mai and its redevelopment? (2019, Pu de Provence)

The Names of All the Flowers
By Melissa Valentine, MFA ’13

Set in rapidly gentrifying 1990s Oakland, this memoir connects one tragic death to a collective grief for all Black men who die too young. A lyrical recounting of a life lost, this story is an intimate portrait of a family fractured by the school-to-prison pipeline and an enduring love letter to an adored older brother. It is a call for justice amid endless cycles of violence, grief, and trauma, declaring: “We are all witness and therefore no one is spared from this loss.” (2020, Feminist Press)

Journeys in Natural Dyeing
By Kristine Vejar ’01 & Adrienne Rodriguez ’01

Journeys in Natural Dyeing shares the story of the authors’ travels to four countries—Iceland, Mexico, Japan, and Indonesia—where they visited natural dyers who use locally-sourced dyes to create textiles that evoke beauty, connect to their environment, and showcase their mastery of skill. This book shares their process of using their own locally-grown dyes and includes recipes and projects to create more than 400 shades of color. In addition, you will learn how to use your own natural environment to create deep, beautiful colors. (2020, Abrams & Chronicle Books)

Love & Lies: A Secret Memoir
By Ann Beckman Hymes ’67

As the past catches up with her, Theresa Alston Crandall reflects on her life of deception in a secret memoir. Set at her inherited oceanfront home, Whimsy Towers, Theresa enjoys a carefree summer before being forced to grapple with her past due to her son’s mysterious and untimely death. As the title suggests, Theresa must come to terms with her life of love and lies. (2020, Secant Publishing)

The Unfolding Sidewalk
By Winifred Ebmeier Cullen ’68

In this children’s book, the young, imaginative Winnie learns to ride a tricycle and is soon led on a magical journey that promises treasure. But upon finding it, she must decide if the treasure is truly hers, or if a larger lesson is in store. (2019, Christian Faith Publishing)

Becoming A Japanese War Bride: An Oral History and From Grief to Grace: A Poetry Book
By Kristopher Shirey ’13

Told from the perspective of Fumiko, Becoming A Japanese War Bride details the journey of a Japanese war bride, thus preserving her voice forever. This tome actually started out as Shirey’s Mills thesis! And in From Grief to Grace, he paints pictures with words to pen deeply relatable poetry. (2020, BookBaby) (War Bride)

Vénus Noire: Black Women and Colonial Fantasies in Nineteenth-Century France
By Robin Mitchell ’98

In her book, Mitchell explores how images and discussions of black women helped shape the culture and national identity of post-revolutionary France. In particular, the book explores three famous black women: Sarah Baartmann, who “represented distorted memories of Haiti in the French imagination”; Ourika, a young Senegalese girl who inspired plays, poems, and other trends; and Jeanne Duval, whose demonization reveals the erasure of black women’s stories. Mitchell’s careful examination of these women highlights larger issues of the racial “blind spot” in French national identity, which is still relevant today. (2020, University of Georgia Press)

The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World
By Pilar Gerasimo ’90

Pilar Gerasimo’s new book offers advice on how to be healthy in what she explains is an unhealthy world using “new-era survival skills.” Though the word deviant has a mischievous connotation, Gerasimo defines a healthy deviant as “One who willingly defies unhealthy norms and conventions in order to achieve a high level of vitality, resilience, and autonomy.” The book, which she describes as part manifesto, part wakeup call, invites readers to participate on a 14-day journey which promises rewarding results. (2020, North Atlantic Books)

Free For All: A Lexi Fagan Mystery
By Autumn Doerr ’96

In the second book of the series, Autumn Doerr once again takes readers on a journey through the life of Lexi Fagan, who must come to terms with her past in order to catch a killer. Just as her life seems to be back on track, Lexi’s boss is found murdered. Her old friend, Detective Robert Reiger, needs her “eyes and ears” to solve this case, and Lexi is pulled into the world of the mysterious Freedom Institute. (2019, Autumn Doerr)

As Many Nows As I Can Get
By Shana Youngdahl ’01

In her debut YA novel, Youngdahl tells the story of recent high-school graduates Scarlett and David, who have grown up together in the tiny town of Graceville, Colorado. Suddenly, the two classmates find themselves in a whirlwind romance just weeks before heading off to college. Scarlett has always been so practical and prudent, yet is drawn to the fiery David in a way she never expected. Going back and forth through time, As Many Nows As I Can Get retraces that age when everything seems limitless yet impossible at once. (2019, Dial Books)

We Are All Good People Here
By Susan Rebecca White, MA ’03

First-year roommates Eve Whalen and Daniella Gold meet in the fall of 1962 at Nashville’s Belmont College and quickly see their relationship transformed by the many social changes of the decade. Eve, who grew up in a wealthy Atlanta family, finds herself drawn to the radicalism that defined the era, while Daniella, the child of a Jewish father and Christian mother from Washington, DC, distances herself from her friend. After a tragedy, the two reconcile—but attempt to bury the past. Though the story spans the course of American history between the presidencies of JFK and Bill Clinton, it’s just as relevant in today’s polarized political climate. (2019, Atria Books)

Ugly Differences: Queer Female Sexuality in the Underground
By Yetta Howard, MA ’02

What would it mean to turn to ugliness rather than turn away from it? Indeed, the idea of ugly often becomes synonymous with non-white, non-male, and non-heterosexual physicality and experience. That same pejorative migrates to become a label for practices within underground culture. In Ugly Differences, Yetta Howard uses underground contexts to theorize queer difference by locating ugliness at the intersection of the physical, experiential, and textual. From that nexus, Howard contends that ugliness—as a mode of pejorative identification—is fundamental to the cultural formations of queer female sexuality. Howard reveals how the things we see, read, or experience as ugly productively account for non-dominant sexual identities and creative practices. (2018, University of Illinois Press)