Sycamore: A Novel

“In this masterful performance, Bryn Chancellor explores the loss around which an entire community has calcified with humanity and wisdom. Chancellor digs deep in these pages, unearthing broken hearts, secrets, betrayals, passion and—most impressively—grace. What a joy to find a book that is both propulsive and perfectly composed.”
—Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest

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Available: May 9, 2017
Harper
ISBN-13:9780062661098

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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. As news of the discovery makes its way around town, Sycamore’s longtime residents fear the bones 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 days it takes the authorities to make an identification, the residents rekindle stories, rumors, and recollections both painful and poignant as they revisit Jess’s troubled history. In resurrecting the past, the people of Sycamore will find clarity, unexpected possibility, and a way forward for their lives.

Skillfully interweaving multiple points of view, Bryn Chancellor knowingly maps the bloodlines of a community and the indelible characters at its heart—most notably Jess Winters, a thoughtful, promising adolescent poised on the threshold of adulthood. Evocative and atmospheric, Sycamore is a coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a moving exploration of the elemental forces that drive human nature—desire, loneliness, grief, love, forgiveness, and hope—as witnessed through the inhabitants of one small Arizona town.

Critical Praise

“Bryn Chancellor must have lived a million lives, all of them female, for each of the women who inhabit Sycamore (the town and the novel) is rendered with razor sharp clarity, deep empathy, and abiding grace.  Jess Winters belongs on a list of teenage characters with Dorothy Allison’s Bone, Kaye Gibbon’s Ellen Foster and Harper Lee’s Scout.  It is no wonder that for the townspeople, her loss is irrecoverable. This novel hums with emotional intelligence and structural complexity, and has a big old human ache in its heart.”
— Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

“Bryn Chancellor explores the complexities of a small-town girlhood with insight and compassion. A page-turner and a heart-breaker, Sycamore marks the arrival of a shining new voice.”
— Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow

Sycamore is an amazing showcase for Bryn Chancellor’s great talent, the way she allows each of the various characters to shine on their own, but connects them with such subtlety that their light forms a constellation that maps out the grief, the regrets, and the strength of an entire community. This is a powerful debut novel, one without flaw, and it will slay you.”
— Kevin Wilson, author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth and The Family Fang

“In this masterful performance, Bryn Chancellor explores the loss around which an entire community has calcified with humanity and wisdom. Chancellor digs deep in these pages, unearthing broken hearts, secrets, betrayals, passion and—most impressively—grace. What a joy to find a book that is both propulsive and perfectly composed.”
—Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest

“Bryn Chancellor’s Sycamore instantly reminded me of Tana French’s thrillers: a small, intertwined community, a long-ago crime, the tension and intrigue that won’t stop rippling….Chancellor writes gorgeously, and her story is riveting and real. I love it.”
— Joy Castro, author of Hell or High Water and Island of Bones

“Haunting and elegiac, Bryn Chancellor’s Sycamore masterfully traces the fault lines of trauma and loss that resurface in the wake of a tragedy’s second coming. Chancellor’s multivocal narrative brims with intelligence and insight, and her subtle writing poignantly illuminates the ways in which we are sometimes bound, for better and for worse, by a collective sorrow.”
—Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus

“In Sycamore, Bryn Chancellor writes young women so closely, so intimately—every rich corner of their lives-we see too clearly the dream that has captured them all: they think they have plenty of time. It’s troubling and tender. Underneath and above this town, the mystery of the girl who disappeared swirls everywhere and amplifies these lives, the hope and the love and the harm. This is a wonderful debut novel.”
— Ron Carlson, author of The Signal and Five Skies

“Bryn Chancellor’s compelling debut novel, Sycamore, weaves a suspenseful web around a small town in the years following a disappearance. With astute emotional and psychological observations, Chancellor successfully shows the power of the unknown as various individuals explore the many what ifs and imaginings of what really happened.”
— Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life

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