Ellen Meeropol

Ellen Meeropol is the author of the novels Her Sister’s Tattoo, Kinship of Clover, On Hurricane Island, and House Arrest, and the play Gridlock. Essay and short story publications include Ms. Magazine, The Writer’s Chronicle, Guernica, and The Boston Globe. Her work has been honored by the Sarton Prize, the Women’s National Book Association, the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and PBS NewsHour. A founding member of Straw Dog Writers’ Guild, Ellen coordinates their Social Justice Writing project and lives in Northampton, MA.


All Books

The Lost Women of Azalea Court

Ellen Meeropol

Publication Date: September 13, 2022

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781636280493

Description:

On a chilly November morning, eighty-eight-year-old Iris Blum goes missing from Azalea Court, a six-bungalow development on the grounds of a long-closed state mental hospital. Her husband, Asher Blum, was the last head psychiatrist at the hospital and is writing a book about the treatment of mental illness. Their daughter Lexi, the neighbors, and police detective McPhee suspect Dr. Blum of being involved in Iris’s disappearance. When the searches and interviews come up empty, the neighbors dig into the past—Asher’s childhood experiences with anti-Nazi partisans in the forests of Poland, unethical practices at the mental hospital, and Iris’s mysterious best friend, Harriet. The neighbors of Azalea Court, Lexi, Harriet, and Detective McPhee narrate this story together, uncovering ghosts, secrets, and lies.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“A richly-told story of a marriage—and a community—unraveled by secrets, knit back by love. The Lost Women of Azalea Court is a beautiful, wise, and big-hearted novel.”

—Jennifer Rosner, author of The Yellow Bird Sings

The Lost Women of Azalea Court begins with a seemingly simple, explainable mystery: an eighty-eight-year-old woman disappears from the house she shares with her husband, a psychiatrist, and the former head of the now-closed state mental hospital for which Azalea Court served as staff housing. But that mystery is just one of many related, slowly unveiled mysteries and secrets, some of which go back to the Holocaust and the Red Scare after World War II. In the search for the missing woman, the women of Azalea Court, a delightful mix of characters, unexpectedly band together. In Ellen Meeropol’s deft hands, lost women are found—and begin to find justice—in a most satisfying, enjoyable way.

—John Mutter, co-founder and editor in chief of Shelf Awareness

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

Short Play Based on Ellen Meeropol’s HER SISTER’S TATOO Set for Live Reading!

Greenfield, MA – Set in an unspecified re-purposed building in a small Western Massachusetts town, Northampton author and playwright Ellen Meeropol’s GRIDLOCK tackles issues of climate change and radical activism as two sisters reunite after a fifty-year separation. On Friday, June 11, a public reading of this work-in-development will give audience members and artists the chance to hear […]

TEA BY THE SEA (Donna Hemans) and HER SISTER’S TATTOO (Ellen Meeropol) shortlisted for the Story Circle’s Women’s Book Awards!

The Sarton Awards are presented in four categories (memoir, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, nonfiction). The award program is named in honor of May Sarton, who is remembered for her outstanding contributions to women’s literature as a memoirist, novelist, and poet. Sarton memoirs, novels, and nonfiction books are distinguished by the compelling ways they honor the lives […]

“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 by the sight of the Clearwater sloop sailing down the Hudson River. I stood in front of a large painting hung on the white wall […]

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 sisters, Rosa and Esther, who are arrested for the crime. Esther is a mother of a five-month old infant, and makes decisions that rip apart […]

Her Sister’s Tattoo on The Bill Newman Show April 13th 2020

Ellen Meeropol speaks with the local North Hampton news radio on the Bill Newman Show to discuss the book launch of Her Sister’s Tattoo. Listen in for an inside scoop on the influences and process behind Her Sister’s Tattoo. Listen here!

Gridlock: A Precursor to Her Sister’s Tattoo

“My sister Ruth showed up on day four of the blackout, the day we began to suspect this wasn’t an ordinary grid failure. There had been no blizzard, no fragility of the coming western Massachusetts winter. The utility company issued no major wind event. It wasn’t even that cold, though the early November air already […]

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 Book Award), and House Arrest. Recent essay publications include the Boston Globe, The Writer, and Guernica. Meeropol’s dramatic script telling the story of the Rosenberg Fund for Children was […]

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 troops lined the wide avenue, sunlight bouncing off their helmets. Rooftop cameras mounted on panel trucks with television station logos swiveled to catch the action. […]

Lithub: Rekindled: Andrew Altschul in Conversation With Ellen Meeropol

On this episode of Rekindled, Andrew Altschul is in conversation with Ellen Meeropol. Andrew Altschul’s third novel, The Gringa, was published the day before the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus crisis a pandemic. Ellen Meeropol’s fourth novel, Her Sister’s Tattoo, comes out next week, as three-quarters of US citizens are sheltering in place. Both writers have focused […]

Rekindled: Andrew Altschul in Conversation With Ellen Meeropol

On this episode of Rekindled, Andrew Altschul is in conversation with Ellen Meeropol. Andrew Altschul’s third novel, The Gringa, was published the day before the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus crisis a pandemic. Ellen Meeropol’s fourth novel, Her Sister’s Tattoo, comes out next week, as three-quarters of US citizens are sheltering in place. Both writers have focused […]

House Arrest excerpt posted on Shaking Like a Mountain

If you have ever wanted to get a taste of Ellen Meeropol’s writing, here is a great opportunity. Shakinglikeamountain.com has posted an enticing excerpt from Ellen’s Spring 2011 title House Arrest. “The knock at the apartment door is loud. Momma answers it and steps back to let the two men in suits into the kitchen. They […]

Ellen Meeropol interviewed by Linda K. Sienkiewicz!

Recently, Linda K. Sienkiewicz made a blog post in which she talked with Red Hen author Ellen Meeropol about Ellen's new novel, On Hurricane Island. The two discussed Ellen's writing process, research, and the effect the book has had on Ellens daily life. It's a fascinating read! To read the full interview, click

Ellen Meeropol chats with Bunny from the Bagoodjohn blog

In a recent article on Bagoodjohn.blogspot.com, Ellen Meeropol spoke with Bunny about House Arrest and her works in progress. – "Ideas for the next novel are always simmering in the back of my brain. By the time House Arrest was under contract with Red Hen Press, I had started writing the next novel. That manuscript […]

Reviews

THE LOST WOMEN OF AZALEA COURT Receives Glowing Review by Mom Egg Review!

Ellen Meeropol is a fearless writer. When she picks up her pen and follows her characters, she goes to places and situations lesser writers might avoid: a young pregnant woman awaiting trial (House Arrest, 2011); an innocent academic pulled aside by airport security and incarcerated in a secret holding cell (On Hurricane Island, 2015); a […]

Booktrib: Family and Priorities Collide in Her Sister’s Tattoo

This is a powerful story of political activism, family betrayal, allegiance and love. When two sisters get arrested during a Vietnam War protest in 1968, they must decide where their loyalties lie. In Her Sister’s Tattoo (Red Hen Press) by Ellen Meeropol, politics and family are important for both Rosa and Esther, but they each must stand up […]

Times Standard: Books and More: New novel set during Vietnam War

A newly released novel, “Her Sister’s Tattoo” by Ellen Meeropol, was brought to my attention and it struck a soft spot I thought was long buried. Like so many of you, as a child of the ’60s, the Vietnam War touched my life in many ways. The only thing I knew for sure was that I had […]