Out for a hike one scorching afternoon in Sycamore, Arizona, a newcomer to town stumbles across what appear to be human remains embedded in the wall of a dry desert ravine. The news gives the town’s longtime residents the same immediate thought: they may belong to Jess Winters, the teenage girl who disappeared suddenly some eighteen years earlier, an unsolved mystery that has soaked into the porous rock of the town and haunted it ever since.
In the few days it takes the authorities to identify the bones, the town’s residents rekindle stories, gossip, and painful memories, and reawaken the complex web of troubled relationships and events that centered around Jess before she disappeared. SYCAMORE is a heart-wrenching, penetrating portrait of a small town with a mystery at its heart, and the yearnings, passions, and abiding need for human connection that animate it.
Skillfully weaving together multiple points of view, Bryn Chancellor brings to life a cast of indelible characters, most notably Jess Winters, an unforgettable young woman poised on the precarious, wide-eyed threshold of adulthood.
Just as SYCAMORE knowingly maps the hidden bloodlines of a community, it also reminds us of the kind of lump-in-the-throat emotion a novel can stir.
About the author
Byrn Chancellor’s short story collection When Are You Coming Home? won the 2014 Praire Schooner Book Prize, and her short fiction has appeared in Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Colorado Review, Crazy Horse, Phoebe, and elsewhere. Other honors include the 2014 Poets & Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award in fiction, and literary fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She has a MFA in fiction from Vanderbilt University and teaches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.