The House on Ashbury Street
It is 2005 and Deb Travis, a park ranger in Death Valley, has spent the last thirty years grieving the death of her brother Ron. He was the light of her life, her mentor and protector, a beautiful young man with an easy laugh and a bright green thumb. But according to police, he shot himself in the housing collective where he lived with five others in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. No letter was left behind, only a journal packed with diatribes against the government, the Vietnam War, and his shame over an unnamed secret. The cause of death seemed evident but the reason was never clear. Three decades later, Deb receives a disturbing comment on her website, challenging whether Ron's death was truly a suicide and causing her to question everything she thought she knew.
Across the country in Brooklyn, Nikki Gold, a child therapist, is triggered by a young client's case. Shadowy, disturbing images from Nikki's childhood emerge, leading her to wonder if she, like so many of her clients, suffered a trauma. No such memory surfaces, but clearly something happened in the Haight-Ashbury house where she grew up. As she starts to explore what that might be, her life spirals out of control.
Meanwhile, as Deb begins digging into the past, she searches for members of the housing collective and finds Nikki, who had spent her childhood in the house and had looked up to Ron as a surrogate father. When Deb and Nikki reconnect, they embark on a search for answers but are met with even more questions. What painful truth was Ron hiding from his housemates? What did they know about him but leave unsaid? Does shedding light in the darkest corners of the people we love bring us any closer to them? Or are the secrets we keep sometimes the only thing saving us?
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About the Author
Susie Hara is the author of the novels The House on Ashbury Street (Mumblers Press, 2023) and Finder of Lost Objects (Ithuriel's Spear Press, 2014). Kirkus reviews called The House on Ashbury Street a "compelling story." Finder of Lost Objects was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and winner of an International Latino Book Award for Popular Fiction. Before turning her hand to fiction she was a writer/performer, and her work appeared on numerous San Francisco stages, including The Marsh and Z Space. Her stories have appeared in several anthologies, including Fractured Lit 2 and Fast Girls. Find her at https://susiehara.net.
Set in 1975 and three decades after, Susie Hara's beautiful novel deftly explores the aftereffects of held secrets and the healing power of community. With historical events woven in, The House on Ashbury Street shows us how national trauma becomes personal trauma, and how we find our way out of it.
-Janis Cooke Newman, author of A Master Plan for Rescue
I loved The House on Ashbury Street. Susie Hara explores [how] we carry loss, love and trauma through the years. Two [haunted] women ... join together to find out what really happened ... in San Francisco in 1975. Hara writes with grace and compassion about compelling characters and turbulent times.
Ellen Sussman, New York Times bestselling author of French Lessons and other novels.