2018 Fall/Winter Reading List

It’s 1923 and 19-year-old Dara falls in love with her best friend, who happens to be a girl. To avoid a bleak, terrifying future in their small town, Dara takes a job in the kitchen at Imperial State Prison Farm for men. There she meets real-life blues singer Lead Belly, who sings his way to a pardon from the Governor—but only after he makes her promise to follow his lead. Life outside, however, isn’t all sweet tea and roses. After Dara’s ordinary domestic life falls apart and she gains so much weight she can barely wash herself, she is sent on a journey to accept the secret she’s been carrying. Along the way Dara reunites with her estranged step-daughters, buys a mobile home that she dubs the “Bland Old Opry,” and—to the chagrin of some in her small Texas town—falls in love with the local seamstress, a fellow widower and devotee of Bingo, Mrs. Tanya May Rogerton. Dara must break out of her own physical and emotional prison to become the fabulous matriarch to a family of Texas misfits.