Recent Literary Offerings from Mills Alumnae/i

In My Mother’s Footsteps: A Palestinian Refugee Returns Home
By Mona Halaby, TCRED ’89

This tome tells the story of Halaby’s decision to move from California to Ramallah to teach conflict resolution for one year, and while she was there—in a place her mother left 59 years ago—she kept a journal of experiencing what she had only known through her mother’s memories. In My Mother’s Footsteps is a moving journey of a daughter discovering her roots and recovering her mother’s beloved past. It’s also an intimate and tender account of Palestinian daily life. (Thread Books, 2021) 

Borderline Fortune 
By Teresa K. Miller, MFA ’06 

This National Poetry Series-winning collection of poetry explores intangible family inheritance, set against the backdrop of our planetary legacy as humans. As glaciers melt and species go extinct, Miller asks what we owe one another and how we echo our ancestors’ grief and trauma. Professor of English Elmaz Abinader says this about the collection: “The poems in Borderline Fortune are so sharply crafted, they serve as the pick and axe that dig deep into the granite of the past and shape a world created from the knowledge and the mythology Miller has extracted.” (Penguin Books, 2021) 

Make Thrift Mend 
By Katrina Rodabaugh, MFA ’07 

Rodabaugh follows her bestselling book Mending Matters with a comprehensive guide to building (and keeping) a wardrobe that matters. Whether you want to repair your go-to jeans, refresh a favorite garment, alter or dye clothing you already have—this book has all the know-how you’ll need. Woven throughout are stories, essays, and a slow fashion call-to-action, encouraging readers to get involved or deepen their commitment to changing the destructive habit of overconsumption. (Abrams Books, 2021) 

New York City Blues: Postwar Portraits from Harlem to the Village and Beyond 
By Larry Simon, MA ’83 

A Brooklyn-born guitarist and composer, Simon interviewed for this book many of the leading jazz and blues artists with whom he has previously recorded and toured. New York City Blues offers a deep dive into the blues venues and performers in the city from the 1940s through the 1990s through the words of the performers themselves, plus the photographs of Robert Schaffer. (University Press of Mississippi, 2021) 

Woman Between Two Kingdoms: Dara Rasami and the Making of Modern Thailand
By Leslie Castro-Woodhouse ’90

Based on Castro-Woodhouse’s 2009 dissertation at UC Berkeley, this tome focuses on the life of one of the 153 wives of Siam’s King Chulalongkorn. Dara Rasami was a princess of Chiang Mai who was born in 1873 and took the traditions of her hometown with her to the Grand Palace in Bangkok in 1885. Thanks to the support of the Mellon Foundation, the book is available as a free download. (2021, Cornell University Press)

Salmon Croquettes
By Gloden Champion ’06

In this novel, the 1965 Watts Riots are the backdrop as Zayla Lucille McKinney begins wondering whether she’s actually a boy trapped in a girl’s body. Salmon Croquettes is a sensitive exploration of Zayla’s transition from childhood incomprehension to an acceptance of who she is and the truth of who her parents really are. (2021, Black Muse Publishing)

At the End of My Walk
By Claudia Cole Bluhm ’73

A Bay Area native, Bluhm thoughtfully shares her childhood experiences in this evocative collection of narrative poetry. One piece, titled “Liberty Street,” is named for the San Francisco street where she grew up; it’s already appeared in the anthology Fog and Light: San Francisco through the Eyes of the Poets Who Live Here. Other works detail her adolescence spent in the suburbs of Marin County. (2021, Blue Light Press)

Learning, Healing and Change: Notes on Teaching in Testing Times
By Rebecca Coolidge-Blair ’94

Coolidge-Blair’s new book is based on 13 years teaching in a Title 1 school before, during, and after the institution of federal education reforms. She shares personal insights about learning as an innate gift, similar to healing, which is essential for individual well-being, democracy, and social progress. (2020, Austin Macauley)

In the Event of Contact
By Ethel McDonnell Rohan ’02, MA ’04

This collection of 12 short stories centers on women, survivors, trauma, and recovery, with characters who are profoundly affected by physical connection, or the lack thereof. Among them, a scrappy teen vies to be the next Sherlock Holmes; an immigrant daughter must defend her decision to remain childless; a guilt-ridden woman is haunted by the disappearance of her childhood friend; a
cantankerous crossing guard celebrates getting run over by a truck; and an aspirational, angst-ridden mother captains the skies. (2021, Dzanc Books)

Want Me
By Tracy Clark-Flory ’06

In this bold memoir, prominent sex journalist Tracy Clark-Flory shares the confusing, funny, and sometimes painful moments that shaped her young adulthood, offering an honest look at sex and culture for modern young women. Readers are taken on Clark-Flory’s journey toward sexual empowerment, from her beginning all the way to her time as a veteran journalist covering the sex beat. Thoroughly educational and thought-provoking, Want Me is about looking for love, sex, and power as a woman in a culture that is freer than ever, yet defined by unprecedented pressures and enduring constraints. (2021, Penguin Randomhouse)

Chokecherry Girl
By Barbara Meyer Link, MA ’77

Inspired by Link’s own childhood in smalltown Montana, Chokecherry Girl centers on three women—a teenager, a hairstylist, and a Crow Indian woman—drawn together by a stolen car, an illicit love affair, and a shooting. Despite their differences, these women form an unlikely friendship, face challenges of 1950s America that still resonate today, and learn the power of unspoken secrets. (2021, Acorn Press)

White Feminism
By Koa Beck ’09

Join the conversation about race, empowerment, and inclusion in the United States with White Feminism: From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind, a new feminist classic and rousing call for change. Beck examines the history of feminism, from the true mission of the suffragettes to the rise of corporate feminism, with clear-eyed scrutiny and meticulous detail. She also examines overlooked communities—including Native American, Muslim, transgender, and more—and their difficult and ongoing struggles for social change. (2021, Atria Books)

Upgrade Available
By Julia Christensen, MFA ’03

This book, released alongside an exhibition with the same name, documents Christensen’s ongoing investigation into our “upgrade culture,” in which the need to upgrade electronics ultimately impacts the experience of time. Featuring Christensen’s writing interspersed with artwork and conversations, the book explores Christensen’s journey through the international e-waste industry all the way to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she works to envision artwork for an evolving, autonomously upgrading spaceship headed toward a potentially habitable planet in another star system. (2020, Dancing Foxes Press)

By Joan Gefland, MFA ’96

Set in a tech-driven world of apps, startups, and skateboarders, EXTREME follows characters who grapple with unresolved love affairs and the tension between authenticity and commercialism. The thriller’s heroine, Hope Ellson, must navigate a male-dominated tech world and face relentless pressure to meet ambitious goals. With an insider’s view, EXTREME offers insight into how a startup grows—and how it’s vulnerable to dying before its prime. (2020, Blue Light Press)

The ‘Ohana Grill Cookbook
By Adrienne Robillard, MFA ’01

Bring home the tropical flavors of the Pacific with The ‘Ohana Grill Cookbook. With 50 easy and delicious Hawai‘i-inspired recipes, including family favorites and new twists on iconic Island flavors, this cookbook will help you master your equipment, choose the best ingredients for grilling, and achieve perfectly cooked results sure to please. Robillard grew up and still lives in Hawai‘i. (2020, Ulysses Press)

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)

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)