Eighteen-year-old Sonya Hudson has been gripped by phobia since she was thirteen. What would make navigating the world so difficult for this budding visual artist? When the story opens, she lives with her mother and her sister in a suburb in New York in the late 1970s. The narrative carries us back through her childhood, where she struggles with the family’s frequent moving and with her parents’ increasingly fraught marriage. Lingering at the periphery of her consciousness is the shadow of a damaged boy she knew when she was very young. Reverence for the natural world provides comfort, as does her fierce attachment to her sister and her parents’ poignant guidance. But it is the intimacy with another young woman that ultimately offers a path to healing. In language soaring with poetic incantation, From the Longing Orchard shows us the ways in which a young woman and those she loves all must contend with a longing of some kind and how they seek from each other, and sometimes find, the needed balm.
In this novel, words take on the weight of objects, shimmer in images that linger long after the pages are turned. Jopp, a gifted poet, is also a natural storyteller, and she has created a world I want to return to again and again. Breathtaking at the level of language with characters both complicated and alive on the page, From the Longing Orchard will enchant you while it breaks your heart—a perfect reading experience if you ask me. I loved it.
—Anne Dyer Stuart, author of What Girls Learn and winner of the Henfield/Transatlantic Prize for Fiction