A haunting novel about the lasting effects of childhood trauma and the resulting choices we make for our children.
After growing up in an austere spiritual compound, two teenagers, Simrin and Arjun, escape and go their separate ways. Years later, Simrin receives an email from Arjun. As they reconnect, Simrin learns that he has become the charismatic leader of Meadowlark, a commune in the Nevada desert that allows children to discover their "gifts."
In spite of their fractured relationship, Simrin, a photojournalist, agrees to visit Meadowlark to document its story. She arrives at the commune with her five-year-old daughter in tow and soon realizes there is something disturbing about Arjun's beliefs concerning children and their unusual abilities. When she discovers that the commune is in the midst of a criminal investigation, her unease grows deeper still.
As tensions with police heighten, Arjun's wife begins to make plans of her own, fearing the exposure the investigation might bring for her and her children. Both mothers find themselves caught in a desperate situation, and as the conflict escalates, everyone involved must make painful--and potentially tragic--choices that could change their worlds forever.
Gripping and beautifully crafted, Meadowlark explores the power and danger of being extraordinary and what it means to see and be seen.
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About the Author
Melanie Abrams is the author of the novels Playing and Meadowlark. She is a developmental editor and photographer and teaches writing at the University of California, Berkeley.
"Abrams gorgeously depicts the spellbinding world of closed communities, in which being noticed as special means everything. From the starkly beautiful desert landscapes that mirror the children's thirst for attention to the brightly colored lines and shapes that Simone and Quinn see linking them to those they love, Abrams deftly conjures a highly charged emotional terrain. A compelling, taut portrait of love and broken promises." --Kirkus Reviews
"This second novel by Oakland's Abrams explores the power and danger of being extraordinary in an environment of escalating tension." --San Francisco Chronicle
"Abrams's latest is a beautifully written if terrifying look at childhood, trauma, and how being extraordinary does not promise a charmed life...With main characters living lies, their assumed names are just the first layer of deception in a deep story of being special and of the pain it can cause." --Booklist
"In her sophomore novel, author and Berkeley English department lecturer Melanie Abrams draws compelling parallels between two perilous acts of optimism: raising a child and building a utopia. A fine-tuned psychological thriller, Meadowlark grapples with what it means to be a parent who carries the long-lasting wounds of childhood trauma." --California Magazine
"I picked up this riveting novel one morning, and by the time I looked up--gasping at the explosive, inevitable ending--it was late afternoon. Call in sick, get a babysitter, clear the day, because once you pick up Meadowlark, you won't be able to put it down until the very last astonishing page." --Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Treasure
"Meadowlark is a riveting, vividly rendered journey into the haunted past and uncertain future that await a mother and daughter in the Nevada desert. Melanie Abrams is a writer of remarkable power and insight, and in these pages, she is at the top of her game." --Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
"This intense, powerful novel heats like a crucible over misunderstandings inside and outside a contemporary West Coast cult. The hotter the book gets, the richer the questions it raises about American utopianism, parenting, and power and how far people will go for their ideals. Meadowlark is a superbly gripping and insightful read." --Maria Hummel, author of Still Lives
"Melanie Abrams's Meadowlark seduces you into the dark, secretive world of cults and how those who have been touched by them are never truly free. Her textured prose and detailed descriptions of the rituals and rivalries behind the compound gates are not only vividly imagined but also completely transporting. Simrin and Arjun, with their complexities and weaknesses, are frighteningly believable and reeled me in from the moment they appeared on the page. A gorgeous and gripping read." --Hallie Rubenhold, author of The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
"A fascinating novel that illuminates the afterlife of America's 1970s counterculture and challenges the power and danger of alternative communities." --Jess Row, author of Your Face in Mine