The hour is nearly here. My novel The Risk of Us is coming out next Tuesday, and I’ll be launching a reading tour Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. at Green Apple Books on the Park, 1231 9th Avenue, San Francisco in conversation with novelist and Chronicle columnist Vanessa Hua. If you could make it, I’d be most honored by your presence. And so grateful to share this book with you. I believe in it with all my heart. It’s about a couple trying to adopt a child out of foster care, but really as I wrote, it was first about the question “How do you love someone driven to self-destruct?” and then about the question “What is real unconditional love?” The questions, I think, are universal, but the subject matter of the book is (to my mind even if we are inundated by so much chaos) urgently important. The number of children in U.S. foster care has risen five years in a row. I was deeply moved by the first exhibition at Grace Cathedral of the Foster Youth Museum, a project founded and curated by former and current foster youth. Their experiences need to be understood and their voices heard. The Risk of Us is narrated by a woman trying to become a foster-to-adopt mother, a decision I did not undertake lightly given that the foster youth themselves matter most here. Whether I made good on that choice I leave to each individual reader to decide.
This is all very serious–it is a serious book. But there will also be celebration. We’ll be holding a book party next Thursday, April 11th at my other spiritual home (besides the cathedral)–The Alley piano bar in Oakland. That will be more party than literary event, with books for sale (thank you dearly, Walden Pond Books), but mostly cake, singing, and letting loose.
If you’re in the Bay Area, I so hope you can come to one of these events next week. I have a lot of people in my community to thank. Books don’t get written without friends, culture, and steadfast support. I hope to get a chance to say thanks in person.
And for a preview of the novel, I was moved by this sensitive review of The Risk of Us from the SF Chronicle. It will be in print in the Sunday Pink this weekend.
If you can make it to either event, will you let me know? Writing is solitary but the writing life is so crucially communal. Thank you so much for the support.
Here is more about The Risk of Us:
“An emotionally complex and amazingly suspenseful novel about love and fear.”
–Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation
The Risk of Us is now available for pre-order from your favorite independent bookseller, or online via IndieBound.
If you’re on Good Reads, you can add The Risk of Us to your “to-read” list here.
“It’s a triumph of a book that captures an essential truth not just about how it feels to foster an already formed human being, but about the fragile, shape-shifting quality of any family. Raising a child is always a leap of faith, motivated by love, which is something this narrator has stores of.”
–San Francisco Chronicle, full review here
Readings and Events
Tuesday, April 9th: Green Apple Books, San Francisco in conversation with Vanessa Hua 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 11th: The Alley, Oakland. Book party, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 14th: Flatiron Writers Room, Asheville, NC, in conversation with A.K. Benninghofen, 3 p.m.
Wednesday, April 17th: McNally Jackson Books, Brooklyn NY, in conversation with Kate Greathead, 7 p.m.
Friday, April 19th: Third Place Books, Seattle (Ravenna store location), in conversation with Joshua Mohr, 7 p.m.
Monday, April 22nd: Book Soup, Los Angeles, in conversation with Medaya Ocher, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, April 23rd: Chaucer’s Books, Santa Barbara, in conversation with DJ Palladino, 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 25th: Time Tested Books, Sacramento, 7 p.m.
Saturday, April 27th: Petunia’s Place, Fresno, 11 a.m.
Sunday, May 5th: Stranger Than Fiction reading series, Edinburgh Castle Pub, San Francisco, 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 16th: Babylon Salon reading series, The Armory Club, San Francisco, 6 p.m.
Early praise for The Risk of Us:
“I’ve never read anything so beautiful about the intricacies of
adoption—the process itself, and the seldom-talked-about aftermath. The
prose is elegant and compressed; I often had to stop reading to catch my
breath. Anyone who has ever loved a child, in any capacity, should read
— Jamie Quatro, author of I Want to Show You More and Fire Sermon
Rachel Howard has given us a portrait of family-building and
attachment that is at once beautiful and painful, serious and funny,
page-turning and insightful. I was deeply moved by this novel, a
powerful reminder of the risks we take on whenever we love anyone.
–Belle Boggs, author of The Art of Waiting
Rachel Howard’s The Risk of Us (so accurately titled) is a
novel of deep pain yet also laughs – lots of them. Nothing is easy in
this book, and that’s as it should be. With risk comes a kind of awesome
grace. A wonderfully written and candid examination of what it means to
be a family.
–Peter Orner, author of Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge and Love and Shame and Love
This book reads like a thriller. A beautiful story about connection and love despite and beyond trauma.
–Julia Scheeres, author of Jesus Land and A Thousand Lives
The Risk of Us is a spare, poetic, and fearless narrative
that explores the question of what makes—and keeps—a family together. Be
prepared for an absorbing, unflinching chronicle of the formidable
difficulties and vast rewards of love.
–Krys Lee, author of How I Became a North Korean and Drifting House
Rachel Howard works with an elegant complexity, rendering family life
with its necessary cocktail of pain and humor and pathos. She’s the
kind of writer I admire most: an unflinching, savage, and ultimately
tender eye trying to make sense of all our confusions.
–Joshua Mohr, author of Sirens and All This Life