Synopses & Reviews
Sarah Zuckerman and Jennifer Jones are best friends in an upscale part of Washington, D.C., in the politically charged 1980s. Sarah is the shy, wary product of an unhappy home: her father abandoned the family to return to his native England; her agoraphobic mother is obsessed with fears of nuclear war. Jenny is an all-American girl who has seemingly perfect parents. With Cold War rhetoric reaching a fever pitch in 1982, the ten-year-old girls write letters to Soviet premier Yuri Andropov asking for peace. But only Jenny's letter receives a response, and Sarah is left behind when her friend accepts the Kremlin's invitation to visit the USSR and becomes an international media sensation. The girls' icy relationship still hasn't thawed when Jenny and her parents die tragically in a plane crash in 1985.
Ten years later, Sarah is about to graduate from college when she receives a mysterious letter from Moscow suggesting that Jenny's death might have been a hoax. She sets off to the former Soviet Union in search of the truth, but the more she delves into her personal Cold War history, the harder it is to separate facts from propaganda.
You Are One of Them is a taut, moving debut about the ways in which we define ourselves against others and the secrets we keep from those who are closest to us. In her insightful forensic of a mourned friendship, Holt illuminates the long lasting sting of abandonment and the measures we take to bring back those we have lost.
"Intimate and intelligent, You Are One of Them is a surprising story of friendship and loss, but also a meditation on history and a reminder of how global events can reverberate through the smallest moments of ordinary lives." Karen Thompson Walker, New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Miracles
“Elliott Holt is not just a promising writer, but a great writer. She's young, and sh'es a master. I was going to write that You Are One of Them could've been written by an Alice Munro or a Susan Minot, but that would be wrong. Because this book could only have been written by Elliott Holt, whose powerful new voice is her own.” Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life and Chang and Eng
“Elliott Holt's debut novel You Are One Of Them reads with the heartbreaking ring of truth to it as she deftly taps a well of feeling that is at once primal, archetypical and deeply personal. Through the character of Sarah, Holt explores the indelible stain of grief, a child's desire for détente, and the inescapable awareness of the life that could have been but wasn't. Holt's ability to unwind the dangerous power of secrets and to blend fact and fiction, past and present, make for an evocative journey that circles around to illustrate how far we sometimes have to travel in order to find the self that was there all along.” A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven
“Elliott Holt has done something utterly amazing. Through the experiences of Sarah Zuckerman, the fantastic and complicated narrator of You Are One of Them, Holt shows us a genuine and heartfelt coming of age story that so convincingly reveals the deceptions and half truths of growing up. I have rarely seen such a thought-provoking and engrossing portrayal of how our experiences shape us and, consequently, those we most love. This is an eloquent, startling novel and Elliott Holt is a fearless writer.” Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang and Tunneling to the Center of the Earth
“You Are One of Them journeys through the U.S. and Russia, perfectly capturing that frightening time in the 1980s when every child went to bed dreaming of mushroom clouds. Like the cold war, this remarkable novel revolves around hidden truths and unreliable friendships. Elliott Holt skillfully draws out her characters secrets, exploring the different ways we open and close our hearts, and delivering a well-wrought tale of international and emotional intrigue.” Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
“The great accomplishment in You Are One of Them is how effortlessly the vast and global mixes with — and informs — the deeply felt story of a lost friendship. Elliott Holt is graceful, sharp and super-smart, and her novel is a bildungsroman for the atomic age.” Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia and The Monsters of Templeton
About the Author
Elliott Holt's short fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Guernica, and Bellevue Literary Review. She won a 2011 Pushcart Prize and is the runner-up of the 2011 PEN Emerging Writers Award. A graduate of the MFA program at Brooklyn College, where she won the Himan Brown Award, she has received fellowships from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop and Yaddo. She is a former contributing editor at One Story magazine and a former copywriter, who has worked at advertising agencies in Moscow, London, and New York. She currently resides in her hometown of Washington, D.C.