Ellen Meeropol

Ellen Meeropol is the author of three previous novels: Kinship of Clover (Women’s National Book Association Great Group Read, and literary fiction finalist for the Best Book Award), On Hurricane Island (semifinalist for the Massachusetts Book Award), and House Arrest. Recent essay publications include the Boston GlobeThe Writer, and Guernica. Ellen’s dramatic script telling the story of the Rosenberg Fund for Children was produced most recently in Manhattan featuring Eve Ensler, Angela Davis, and Cotter Smith. A founding member of Straw Dog Writers Guild, Ellen leads their Social Justice Writing project. She lives in Northampton, MA.


All Books

Her Sister’s Tattoo

Ellen Meeropol

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-844-1

Description:

Two sisters. One badly injured cop. A family torn between loyalty and politics.

Rosa and Esther Cohen march through downtown Detroit in August 1968, protesting the war in Vietnam in harmony with their family’s tradition of activism. The march is peaceful, but when a bloodied teenager describes a battle with mounted police a few blocks away, the young women hurry to offer assistance. Trying to stop the violence, the sisters instead intensify it. An officer is seriously injured; they are arrested and charged with conspiracy and attempted murder. For Rosa, their arrest offers another way to protest an unacceptable war. Esther wants to avoid prison to stay home with her infant daughter Molly. She agrees to accept a plea bargain offer and testify against Rosa at trial. The consequences of these actions lead one sister underground and into prison, the other to leave town to bury her past in a new town, a new life. Molly grows up unaware of her family history until she meets Rosa’s daughter, her cousin Emma, at summer camp. Told from multiple points of view and through the sisters’ never-mailed letters, Rosa and Esther’s story is bracketed by the Vietnam and Iraq wars. It explores the thorny intersection of sibling loyalty and political beliefs.

ADVANCE PRAISE

Her Sister’s Tattoo is an honest and riveting portrait of anti-war activists and the price individuals and families pay for their actions, no matter how just. It is also a portrait of how lies and secrets can eat away again at both individuals and everyone in their families, particularly the children. Meeropol evokes both the fear and exhilaration of protest.”—Marge Piercy, author of Woman on the Edge of Time

“Her Sister’s Tattoo is a story not just of two sisters, but of our country, where politics have so often torn apart families, loved ones, and communities. This tenderly told novel brings humanity to all sides of struggle, lifting us with its grace, compassion and hope for the future. I highly recommend.”—Rene Denfeld, author of The Child Finder 

Kinship of Clover

Ellen Meeropol

Publication Date: April 4, 2017

$16.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781597093811

Description:

He was nine when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees to Brooklyn, where fate puts him face to face with a group of climate-justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants. As the group readies itself to make a big Earth Day splash, Jeremy soon realizes these eco-terrorists’ devotion to activism might have him–and those closest to him–tangled up in more trouble than he was prepared to face. With the help of a determined, differently abled flame from his childhood, Zoe; her deteriorating, once-rabble-rousing grandmother; and some shocking and illuminating revelations from the past, Jeremy must weigh completing his mission to save the plants against protecting the ones he loves, and confront the most critical question of all: how do you stay true to the people you care about while trying to change the world?


From the author of House Arrest and On Hurricane Island comes a thrilling new activist novel that begs the question, “How far is too far?”


ADVANCED PRAISE

***Named one of “the 7 best books from indie publishers right now” in 2017 by PBS


“Ellen Meeropol has an uncanny knack for examining the big topics of our contemporary world and putting a human face on them. In Kinship of Clover, she does this with intelligence and a big generous heart. An important book by a unique writer, it’s a must read.”–Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle


“Ellen Meeropol brings her keen political sense and psychological understanding to this story of family secrets and family trauma. Kinship of Clover is compelling and the characters stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.”–Nancy Felton, co-owner, Broadside Bookshop (Northampton, MA)


“Ellen Meeropol’s new novel, Kinship of Clover, is a stunning kaleidoscope of humanity, with characters so real and complicated and full of life that you’ll want to linger with them over coffee long after the last page is turned. She treats them all with tremendous generosity, but it’s her creation of Flo, the feisty revolutionary whose mind is devoured a little more each day by Alzheimer’s, who won my heart through and through.”–Emily Crowe, Odyssey Bookshop (South Hadley, MA)


Kinship of Clover counters our culture’s typically insular fiction. From a teenage girl in a wheelchair experiencing her first romantic relationship, to an older activist suffering from Alzheimer’s, to a father adjusting after years in prison, to a young man affected by childhood trauma, to environmentalists worried about global destruction, to biracial characters accepting their heritage, Kinship of Clover depicts our diversity. Meeropol’s social concerns drive issues that surround these sensitively drawn characters. But the novel’s subjects are secondary to the story, one as elaborate and engaging as its ideological undercurrent.”–Nan Cuba, author of Body and Bread


“Midway through this wonderful novel, you will find a woman dancing in her wheelchair. That scene is one of many memorable moments in a story about young people organizing for a sustainable future, even as their once-radical elders try to hold on to a gradually disappearing past. This is a book about time and love, politics and family, and it is sharply observant and deeply compassionate.”—Charles Baxter, author of The Feast of Love


“Ellen Meeropol, writing with heartbreaking truth, clarity, and empathy, illustrates how deeply entwined are the search for justice, the cost society imposes on political beliefs, and the price children can pay for their parent’s convictions. Kinship of Clover weaves strands of family and friends who go back decades, in connections and beliefs, until you are desperate to see the final fabric. Meeropol had me turning pages deep into the night, forcing me to think, making me cry, and, finally, having me believe in the possibility of a better world. I loved this book.”—Randy Susan Meyers, author of Accidents of Marriage


“This smart, lyrical novel cooks up a cast of quirky characters dealing as best they can with a host of 21st century issues: climate change and biodiversity loss, physical and mental illness; personal tragedy, alternative lifestyles and the enduring love among friends and family. Ellen Meeropol’s deep knowledge of the environment, health care, progressive politics and the human heart shines through on every page. A thought-provoking delight to read; I couldn’t put it down!”—Jennifer Browdy, Ph.D., author of What I Forgot . . . And Why I Remembered: A Journey to Awareness and Activism Through Purposeful Memoir

On Hurricane Island

Ellen Meeropol

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

$16.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-300-2

Description:

As a major hurricane threatens the northeast, math professor Gandalf Cohen is abducted by federal agents and flown to a secret interrogation center off the coast of Maine. Austin Coombs, a young local resident, is a newly hired civilian guard assigned to the detention center. Henry Ames, a man of personal secrets, is the FBI special agent in charge of Gandalf’s case and doubts the professor’s terrorist involvement; Tobias, his second-in-command, disagrees, preferring violent interrogation. As the hurricane slams the shore, conflict detonates and each character must choose a side if they’re to survive the storm.


Told over the five days approaching the anniversary of 9/11, by varying voices on both extremes of the political divide, On Hurricane Island is both a fast-paced political thriller and a literary examination of the sociopolitical storm facing our society. How far should government go in the name of protecting our national security? What happens when governmental powers of surveillance and extra-legal interrogation are expanded? How free are we?


Praise for On Hurricane Island:


“On Hurricane Island is unflinchingly political, unashamedly suspenseful, and, above all, deeply human. Here is a writer who knows how to ramp up the tension while never sacrificing the spirit of her conviction, the sense of grounding in the natural world, or the heartbreaking complexity of her characters.”—Naomi Benaron, Bellwether Prize winner for Running the Rift


On Hurricane Island is a chilling, Kafkaesque story about what happens when the United States does to citizens at home what it has done to others abroad. Meeropol puts the reader right into the middle of these practices through characters about whom you really care and a story you can’t put down; a really good book.”—Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights


On Hurricane Island takes us into the world of an imprisoned math professor who is clueless as to why she’s being interrogated. We enter the reality of federal agents facing terrifying expectations, and of a rookie civilian employee horrified by secret tasks thrust on her. Ellen Meeropol’s masterful novel rings of truth — a petrifying truth that had me whipping pages, covering my eyes, and questioning how much I really know about the growing cost of the War on Terror.”—Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Comfort of Lies

House Arrest (2nd Edition)

Ellen Meeropol

Publication Date: September 1, 2014

$15.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-418-4

Description:

Home care nurse Emily Klein usually loves her work. But her new assignment, prenatal visits to a young woman under house arrest for the death of her toddler daughter during a Solstice ceremony, makes her uneasy. Maybe it’s Pippa Glenning’s odd household and the house arrest monitor. Or the court involvement that reminds Emily of her parents’ political activism and her father’s imprisonment. But when she can’t get out of the assignment, Emily is determined to do right by her high-profile and unconventional patient.


Pippa’s racially mixed Family of Isis is in turmoil. Without Tianthe cult leader and Pippa’s lover, who is in jail awaiting trial for the deaths of two toddlers, the group struggles to keep the household and their Tea Room business functioning. If Pippa follows the rules of her house arrest, she may be allowed to keep her baby, but as the pregnant woman in the family it’s her duty to dance for Isis at the upcoming winter Solstice ceremony. To escape the house arrest without being caught, she needs Emily’s help.


Despite their differences, Emily and Pippa’s friendship grows. Emily’s friends, her cousin Anna with whom she lives, Anna’s ex-husband Sam who shares in caring for their young daughter Zoe with spina bifida, her best friend Gina, all warn Emily that Pippa is trouble. When her grandfather dies, Emily reluctantly agrees to accompany Anna to the island in Maine where she was sent to live when her father went to prison. On the island, Emily begins to grapple with her parents? choices a generation earlier.


At home, the media hypes the Frozen Babies Case. Anti-cult sentiment in the city escalates to angry protests and increasing violence. As the winter Solstice approaches, both Emily and Pippa make decisions about their responsibilities to their families, their communities, and to each other– decisions that put their lives, and Pippa’s unborn baby– in jeopardy.


Set in Springfield, Massachusetts and on an island in Penobscot Bay, the story is told from the alternating points of view of Emily, Pippa, Sam, and Gina. House Arrest explores the meaning of family loyalty when beliefs conflict, and questions the necessity of sometimes breaking rules to serve justice.


Praise for House Arrest (2nd Edition):


“Meeropol raises bold questions and allows her handful of main characters to debate the merits: What constitutes a family, and who decides which variations qualify? When is it acceptable to bend the rules, and at what expense? Is it possible to separate actions from consequences? … Meeropol seems to suggest that moral clarity comes not from blind certainty, but from depths of doubt and questioning, which are nearly palpable in Emily and others. And yet, the story never bogs down, thanks to the ongoing suspense of Pippa’s fate and the interplay of so many vividly-drawn characters. Factor in Meeropol’s effortless style, and an intricate tale becomes almost a referendum on free will. This multi-genre novel defies easy classification. Part medical mystery, morality tale and psychological drama, it’s above all a terrific read.”—Joan Silverman, The Portland Press Herald


“I didn’t plan to do so, but I read it straight through until I got to the end. Only then did I realize that this is the sort of novel I’ve been wanting to read for a very long time. Not just because it is a great story that is beautifully written (I love literary fiction), but also because the characters and their lives are so far afield from the configurations we have come to expect, such as the married parents with their two physically perfect children, living in a single-family home. … House Arrest offers a sophisticated and nuanced approach to questions I like to ponder: How does friendship develop and what determines whether a friendship sticks or comes undone? When is deception warranted in order to protect another person – or is it? How can we live fully and meaningfully outside of the usual boxes that are offered up to us?”—Bella DePaulo, Psychology Today online


“[A]n original, riveting, and suspenseful yet warm and sensitive story that deftly explores the concepts of right and wrong, the unequal balance between rigid law and common sense, the unintended consequences of political activism, and the decisions people make when faced with tough life choices.”—William D. Bushnell, The New Maine Times


“Ellen Meeropol’s courageous debut novel explores what it means to live by the principle of compassion, even in defiance of the rules and the rule-makers. It is about the power of ceremony, the hard road to healing, survival and transcendence in the face of unbearable loss. Meeropol, herself a longtime nurse and activist, brings an authentic voice to this moving tale of the ethical and political choices faced by health care practitioners, and by all of us.”—Martín Espada, The Republic of Poetry


“Meeropol’s characters have empathy for people who’ve done awful things and made terrible mistakes —mistakes that caused death and destruction. A large plot concern, revolving around a religious cult, is handled with great wisdom, managing to avoid the heavy hand of the usual judgment shown around this topic. This, I think, is the genius of House Arrest.”—Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Murderer’s Daughters


“The characters in House Arrest lead rich, complicated lives. Ellen Meeropol has written an intelligent, heartfelt, challenging novel that offers no easy answers and stays with the reader long after the final page has been turned.”—Lesléa Newman, October Mourning

House Arrest

Ellen Meeropol

Publication Date: February 1, 2011

$24.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-499-3

Description:

Home care nurse Emily Klein usually loves her work. But her new assignment, prenatal visits to a young woman under house arrest for the death of her toddler daughter during a Solstice ceremony, makes her uneasy. Maybe it’s Pippa Glenning’s odd household and the house arrest monitor. Or the court involvement that reminds Emily of her parents’ political activism and her father’s imprisonment. But when she can’t get out of the assignment, Emily is determined to do right by her high-profile and unconventional patient.


Pippa’s racially mixed Family of Isis is in turmoil. Without Tianthe cult leader and Pippa’s lover, who is in jail awaiting trial for the deaths of two toddlers, the group struggles to keep the household and their Tea Room business functioning. If Pippa follows the rules of her house arrest, she may be allowed to keep her baby, but as the pregnant woman in the family it’s her duty to dance for Isis at the upcoming winter Solstice ceremony. To escape the house arrest without being caught, she needs Emily’s help.


Despite their differences, Emily and Pippa’s friendship grows. Emily’s friends, her cousin Anna with whom she lives, Anna’s ex-husband Sam who shares in caring for their young daughter Zoe with spina bifida, her best friend Gina, all warn Emily that Pippa is trouble. When her grandfather dies, Emily reluctantly agrees to accompany Anna to the island in Maine where she was sent to live when her father went to prison. On the island, Emily begins to grapple with her parents’ choices a generation earlier.


At home, the media hypes the Frozen Babies Case. Anti-cult sentiment in the city escalates to angry protests and increasing violence. As the winter Solstice approaches, both Emily and Pippa make decisions about their responsibilities to their families, their communities, and to each other– decisions that put their lives, and Pippa’s unborn baby– in jeopardy.


Set in Springfield, Massachusetts and on an island in Penobscot Bay, the story is told from the alternating points of view of Emily, Pippa, Sam, and Gina. House Arrest explores the meaning of family loyalty when beliefs conflict, and questions the necessity of sometimes breaking rules to serve justice.

News

“Fourth Estate” by Ellen Meeropol

I first saw the painting 30 years ago, when I walked into friends’ tenth floor apartment on Manhattan’s upper west side. My children immediately hurried to the large window, excited […]

AN AMERICAN HISTORY SUMMER READING LIST

This remarkable novel, just published in April 2020, opens with a 1968 Detroit anti–Vietnam War peace march when “guerrilla theater tactics” that results in an injured policeman, and the two […]

The Page 69 Test: Her Sister’s Tattoo

Ellen Meeropol is the author of the novels: Kinship of Clover (Women’s National Book Association Great Group Read, and literary fiction finalist for the Best Book Award), On Hurricane Island (semifinalist for the Massachusetts […]

CrimeReads: Excerpt from Her Sister’s Tattoo

It’s Detroit, 1968. Sisters Rosa and Esther march against the war in Vietnam with their best friend, Maggie. As they reached the rally site, double rows of blank-faced National Guard […]

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