The Book of Polly

A Novel

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
“Delightful. . . funny and poignant.” --People

With a kick like the best hot sauce, this is the laugh-out-loud story of a girl determined to keep up with her aging, crazy-as-a-fox mother

"If you ever pined for a mother who would take a hunting falcon as her wingman to a parent-teacher conference, Polly is the gal for you. Delicious." --Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama 

Willow Havens is ten years old and obsessed with the fear that her mother will die. Her mother, Polly, is a cantankerous, take-no-prisoners Southern woman who lives to chase varmints, drink margaritas, and antagonize the neighbors—and she sticks out like a sore thumb among the young modern mothers of their small conventional Texas town. She was in her late fifties when Willow was born, so Willow knows she’s here by accident, a late-life afterthought. Willow’s father died before she was born, her much older brother and sister are long grown and gone and failing elsewhere. It’s just her and bigger-than-life Polly. 

Willow is desperately hungry for clues to the family life that preceded her, and especially Polly’s life pre-Willow. Why did she leave her hometown of Bethel, Louisiana, fifty years ago and vow never to return? Who is Garland Jones, her long-ago suitor who possibly killed a man? And will Polly be able to outrun the Bear, the illness that finally puts her on a collision course with her past?

The Book of Polly has a great blend of humor and sadness, pathos and hilarity. This is a bittersweet novel about the grip of love in a truly quirky family and you’ll come to know one of the most unforgettable mother-daughter duos you’ve ever met.

READ AN EXCERPT

Chapter One

What tormented me most, even more than Polly’s secrets, were her cigarettes. I’d seen the black lungs in ads, and pictured Polly’s lungs, already old, already threadbare, quivering in the smoky cloud of each puff like doomed soldiers in the trench of her chest. The cafeteria...

Read More

PRAISE FOR

“Delightful. . . funny and poignant.” --People

“Hepinstall’s Southern coming-of-age novel. . . [is] full of laughter and warmth and sadness. This is a warm and fresh tale.” –Publishers Weekly
 
The Book of Polly has heart and humor, revenge, forgiveness, redemption and a larger than life cast of pitch-perfect characters who bring to mind such Southern literary standard-bearers as Lee Smith and Fannie Flagg. Get ready to fall in love.” --Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of The Weekenders

“I am wildly in love with The Book of Polly. Hepinstall’s characters are so deeply drawn I could almost hear them breathing, and she has a gift for laying the hearts of even minor players open in a single sentence. This is a purely wonderful book about growing up, about growing old, about never going gently into any kind of night. I want everyone I ever met to read it.” –Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of The Opposite of Everyone

"Wonderfully funny, sneaky and involving, the characters in this story are unpredictable and outrageous. If you ever pined for a mother who would take a hunting falcon as her wingman to a parent-teacher conference, Polly is the gal for you. Delicious." --Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama 

“Hilarious and heartfelt, I wanted to wrap my arms round this book and hug it—I loved every page.” --Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“With a drink in one hand, a shotgun in the other, the inimitable Polly Havens can steer a raft through a swamp and decimate squirrels in her garden with ruthless aplomb, with time left over for all-out war with her youngest child. A hilarious, page-turning battle royale between mother and daughter--where the weapon of choice is love.” –Wilton Barnhardt, author of Lookaway, Lookaway

"The Book of Polly is rich with the best kind of humor: quick, smart wit that strikes a perfect balance between wistfully inquisitive Willow and her mother, the one and only, Polly.” --Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life