I absolutely flew through this unique debut. The writing is quick and sharp, and it was fun to read something set in a Portland that I actually recognize. I'll definitely be waiting for more from Chelsey Johnson. Recommended By Moses M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"I tore through this novel like an orphaned reader seeking a home in its ragtag yet shimmering world." — Carrie Brownstein
A warm, funny, and whip-smart debut novel about rebellious youth, inconceivable motherhood, and the complications of belonging — to a city, a culture, and a family — when none of them can quite contain who you really are.
All of us were refugees of the nuclear family...
Twenty-three-year-old artist Andrea Morales escaped her Midwestern Catholic childhood — and the closet — to create a home and life for herself within the thriving but insular lesbian underground of Portland, Oregon. But one drunken night, reeling from a bad breakup and a friend’s betrayal, she recklessly crosses enemy lines and hooks up with a man. To her utter shock, Andrea soon discovers she’s pregnant — and despite the concerns of her astonished circle of gay friends, she decides to have the baby.
A decade later, when her precocious daughter Lucia starts asking questions about the father she’s never known, Andrea is forced to reconcile the past she hoped to leave behind with the life she’s worked so hard to build.
A thoroughly modern and original anti-romantic comedy, Stray City is an unabashedly entertaining literary debut about the families we’re born into and the families we choose, about finding yourself by breaking the rules, and making bad decisions for all the right reasons.
"Written with wit and sensitivity and exquisite emotional intelligence, Stray City is an absolute pleasure to read. Chelsey Johnson is one of the most refreshing new voices in literature." Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All Grown Up
"Stray City has it all. As funny as it is moving; as joyful, as radically communal, as it is lonesome...Honestly, one of the most absorbing, finely-tuned books I’ve had the pleasure of falling down into. Chelsey Johnson is a wonder." Justin Torres, bestselling author of We the Animals
"Insightful and brilliant, Stray City explores the stickiness of doing what’s expected and the strange freedom born of contradiction. I tore through this novel like an orphaned reader seeking a home in its ragtag yet shimmering world." Carrie Brownstein, New York Times bestselling author of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
About the Author
Chelsey Johnson received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. Her stories and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, One Story, Ninth Letter, The Rumpus, and NPR’s Selected Shorts, among other outlets. She has received fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Signal Fire Arts. Born and raised in Northern Minnesota, she currently lives in Richmond, Virginia, and teaches at the College of William & Mary. This is her first novel.
Chelsey Johnson on PowellsBooks.Blog
A hard truth I’ve learned is that you have to leave the places you love in order to write about them. Not until I’d grown up and left northern Minnesota could I make any sense of the place...