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M. O. Walsh grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has written for Oxford American and The New York Times and his stories have been anthologized in Best New American Voices and Bar Stories. He currently teaches English at the University of New Orleans. My Sunshine Away is his first novel.
My Sunshine Away is an extraordinary debut novel from M O Walsh, a dazzling new literary voice. Welcome to Woodland Hills, Louisiana: a place of lush, sweltering summers, neighbourhood cookouts in every backyard and vats of chilled beer under the crepe myrtles. A terrible crime is just about to take place...One day Lindy Simpson cycles home from school and straight into a trap: someone is lying in wait for her, a wire strung between lampposts blocking the path. She is raped just yards from her front door. No one sees a thing and the perpetrator is not caught. Her fourteen year old neighbour has cherished a crush on Lindy, the ultimate girl next door, since they were kids. After her assault he becomes determined to solve the crime, investigating each suspect in the neighbourhood. But before this long, hot summer is out, it will become clear that the friendly community of Woodland Hills has much to hide. Behind every white picket fence in suburbia lies a tangled web of darkness. In his zeal to solve the mystery, the teenage detective stumbles across a sinister world he doesn't recognise, drawing ever closer to a terrifying denouement. My Sunshine Away is an extraordinary debut novel from a unique new literary voice. Childhood in small-town America is filled with dreamy, technicolour days of innocence, but beneath the homely comforts and familiarity, this world is rotten to its very core. For every fan of The Lovely Bones and The Virgin Suicides comes a new and haunting tale of disturbance in suburbia. Try and restrain yourself from flying through the pages of this wonderful novel. Instead savour this lush Louisiana mystery that takes you back to what life tasted like when you were still somewhat naive to the ways of the world. Not just Southern but American in its vivid Baton Rouge colours and scents, treetops and grasses...The last page is as satisfying as the first. A mystery you cannot wait to solve. (Kathryn Stockett, number 1 New York Times bestselling author of The Help). This is literature of the highest order. Although the book snaps with the tautness of a thriller, My Sunshine Away also asks essential questions, like how much responsibility we have to each other, and whether we can we ever fully reassemble the pieces of broken lives. We need more novelists with the guts and clarity of M O Walsh. (Matthew Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves). If you start this novel, you will not put it down. My Sunshine Away is a riveting, suspenseful, page-turning mystery. It is also a wise, insightful, and beautifully written novel. This is an extraordinary debut. (Jill McCorkle, New York Times bestselling author of Life After Life). I can't praise it enough...I am swept up in the quiet beauty of the prose, and in the wisdom and compassion of the narrator. My Sunshine Away is not a thriller; it is a page turner and it's realism at its finest. It's about love, obsession, and pain. A beautiful, remarkable book. I hope M O Walsh writes many more. (Anne Rice, number 1 bestselling author of Prince Lestat). Walsh's word-perfect rendering of the doubts, insecurities, bravado, and idealism of teens deserves to be placed in the hands of readers of Tom Franklin, Hannah Pittard, and Jeffrey Eugenides... (Booklist). My Sunshine Away is that rarest find, a page-turner you want to read slowly and a literary novel you can't look away from. At times funny, at times spine-tinglingly suspenseful, and at times wise...It's a book to read and reread. I'm already excited about M O Walsh's next book. (Tom Franklin, bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter) M O Walsh has written one of the best books I've read in a long while. An outstanding examination of the way that the past and the weight of our memories shape us...My Sunshine Away feels utterly original. (Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang). My Sunshine Away is so much more than a mystery; it's [a] love letter to youth and to possibility. This is an awe-inspiring debut, magic. (Hannah Pittard, author of Reunion and The Fates Will Find Their Way). M O Walsh's My Sunshine Away reminds us that art can be wrenching and a delight, that pain - if examined through wit, intimacy, and wisdom - can be a salve. This novel is great. (Darin Strauss, internationally bestselling author of Half a Life). Beautiful sentences, a mystery at the heart of the story, characters who consistently surprise...The opening grab[bed] me and the ending refuse[d] to let go. I finished reading the book both wiser and sadder than when I started. (Steve Yarbrough, author of The Realm of Last Chances). How do you explain Louisiana humidity? The slow, dull saturation that seeps through layers of one's skin?...My Sunshine Away is the literary equivalent. M.O. Walsh reveals how one crime spills through layers of a Baton Rouge community...Only in the final pages does one feel relief like the stirrings of autumn in the deep South. (Veronica Brooks-Sigler (bookseller at Octavia Books, Louisiana)).