Driven: A White-Knuckled Ride to Heartbreak and Back


Product Details

Mariner Books
Publish Date
June 18, 2019
5.2 X 0.8 X 7.9 inches | 0.5 pounds
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About the Author

MELISSA STEPHENSON earned her BA in English from the University of Montana and her MFA in fiction from Texas State University. Her writing has appeared in publications such as the Rumpus and the Washington Post. Driven is her first book.


"Wanderlust is instilled in Stephenson from a young age, and cars both enable her spirit of adventure and allow her to get at intangible emotions while dealing with very tangible objects . . . Moving . . . We need more stories from women like [this] . . . [who] crave new experiences and knowledge, and are frank about the compromises they have to make for their families." -- Outside

"Driven is an edgy memoir of cars, crises, and coming of age . . . [it's] worth reading for a quality more difficult to portray in dust jacket copy: being in the hands of a real writer and watching the mastery of craft on the page as [Stephenson] condenses and expands the moments of ordinary life into story, casting for insight and meaning . . . It's clear we're in the hands of a professional . . . [she] sets a scene so we feel like we're inside her skin . . . Stephenson exploits the bread and butter of memoir--parsing childhood experiences and complicated family dynamics--but Driven also explores edgier, more experimental terrain . . . Both the irony, and the beauty, of this book is that it isn't so much a story about her brother at all. This story is hers." -- Texas Observer

"A coming-of-age memoir about wanderlust, grief, and perseverance, Stephenson's first book packs an emotional wallop . . . Readers of grief memoirs will especially want to seek this out, but so should anyone looking for a story of finding strength in oneself." -- Booklist

"What a thrill to ride shotgun with Melissa Stephenson, 'Werewolves of London' blasting as she takes us along on a keen-eyed, bighearted, and quintessentially American road trip to self-discovery and a deeper understanding of her late, troubled, and charismatic older brother." -- Rob Spillman, author of All Tomorrow's Parties

"Melissa Stephenson's Driven does the hard and wonderful work of exhuming the beauty from which disconnection and heartbreak is woven. Perhaps no life, she reminds us, is ever yet fully lived; and there's a beauty in that, too." -- Rick Bass, author of For a Little While

"Driven is written with a poet's ear and a traveler's grit, and it will be a comfort to anyone who has watched a loved one self-destruct, or struggled with the complicated identity of little sister. Melissa Stephenson shines a light on her brother's dark path and ends up finding a road of her own." -- Sarah Hepola, author of Blackout

"Lyrical and eloquent, Stephenson's book is a journey of pain, beauty, and healing that also celebrates the life of her tragically misunderstood brother. Raw, tender, and uniquely envisioned." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Stephenson insightfully maps her family history with tales of strife and love; her beloved brother's mental illness and suicide; her marriage, motherhood, and divorce; and finally finding her voice as a writer. Stephenson's memoir offers a rewarding twist on an American story, and is filled with love, grief, grit, and healing." -- Publishers Weekly

"Not all writers are survivors and not all survivors are writers, but Melissa Stephenson is both and goddamn is she good. Driven is a book you will want to hold tight against your heart, to take with you everywhere you go. Piercing and beautiful." -- Domenica Ruta, author of With or Without You

"With a searing honesty, Melissa Stephenson examines the decisions of her life and the often unexpected consequence. Driven races through time like one of the many automobiles she drives, repairs, and loves. Ultimately, she loves literature more, and this book is the grand and glorious result." -- Chris Offutt, author of Country Dark