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Amaryllis in Blueberry
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Now available from Gallery, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

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In the stirring tradition of The Secret Life of Bees and The Poisonwood Bible, Amaryllis in Blueberry explores the complexity of human relationships set against an unforgettable backdrop. Told through the haunting voices of Dick and Seena Slepy and their four daughters, Christina Meldrum's soulful novel weaves together the past and the present of a family harmed—and healed—by buried secrets.

Maybe, unlike hope, truth couldn't be contained in a jar. . . .

Meet the Slepys: Dick, the stern doctor, the naive husband, a man devoted to both facts and faith; Seena, the storyteller, the restless wife, a mother of four, a lover of myth. And their children, the Marys: Mary Grace, the devastating beauty; Mary Tessa, the insistent inquisitor; Mary Catherine, the saintly, lost soul; and finally, Amaryllis, Seena's unspoken favorite, born with the mystifying ability to sense the future, touch the past and distinguish the truth tellers from the most convincing liar of all.

When Dick insists his family move from Michigan to the unfamiliar world of Africa for missionary work, he can't possibly foresee how this new land and its people will entrance and change his daughters—and himself—forever.

Nor can he predict how Africa will spur his wife Seena toward an old but unforgotten obsession. In fact, Seena may be falling into a trance of her own.

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Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster, trade paperback, February 2011, ISBN-13: 9781439156896

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Book Groups "Amaryllis in Blueberry is a rich, evocative story about an unusual family that will sweep readers away to another place and time. Amaryllis's voice is a spellbinding and unique blend of naiveté and wisdom. A perfect melding of family saga, murder mystery and a meditation on faith, loyalty and love, this novel will both haunt and entertain you."
   —Susan Wiggs, New York Times bestselling author

"Told in prose that is rich and evocative, Amaryllis in Blueberry will stay with readers long after its surprising and satisfying ending, and leave book clubs talking late into the night. This lovely novel spans continents and cultures in a love story, a family saga, and an exploration of faith that is "colored by Africa and flavored by the impurity that is love."
   —Meg Waite Clayton, author of the national bestseller, The Wednesday Sisters

"Christina Meldrum is a fresh, invigorating new voice... Amaryllis in Blueberry is a beautifully written, completely compelling novel that grabbed me from the very first page and wouldn't let me go. I especially loved the African setting."
   —Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author

"A gripping and satisfying read. First you'll race to the end, then you'll tell everyone you know to read it—partly for their benefit, partly so you'll be able to talk about it with someone."
   —Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Pay It Forward, Becoming Chloe, Jumpstart the World, etc.

"This introspective novel by YA author Meldrum (Madapple) tells the story of Dr. Dick Slepy, his wife, and four daughters who move from Michigan to West Africa in 1976 to continue his family's medical missionary heritage. It is the reasoning behind this trip that pulls the reader into questioning the motivation and conviction of each of the characters. Meldrum's plot, chapter by chapter, delves into the self-centered beliefs of the Slepys as they find themselves in a remote, dusty community full of ritual and tradition. Amaryllis, the youngest daughter, has the best insight thanks to her synesthesia. Meldrum keeps the reader wanting to know more about the family through carefully intertwined story lines. VERDICT: Readers will compare this work to Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible—and that is OK. It involves a different family in a different set of circumstances but with the same satisfying result."
   —Library Journal, Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

"Christina Meldrum pierces the facade of a middle American family, exposing the heart of each individual through the unflinching voices of the others. Her keen, distinct prose pulls you into a world both mystical and recognizable. A uniquely memorable read that will stay with you long after you turn the last page."
   —Carol Cassella, National Bestselling author of Oxygen and Healer

"With Amaryllis in Blueberry, Christina Meldrum has woven a beautifully layered, intensely emotional story, with unforgettable characters whose voices will remain with you long after their secrets have been revealed."
   —Michelle Richmond, author of the New York Times and international bestseller The Year of Fog

"In Meldrum's intoxicating first adult novel (after 2010's Madapple) a family undertakes West African missionary work only to find its members profoundly transformed. Polish-American pathologist Dick Slepy lives with his bohemian wife, Christina "Seena," in Danish Landing, Mich. They have four daughters, each following the other by two years. There's pretty Mary Grace, now 18. Mary Catherine is "always-obedient" and pious, whereas Mary Tessa is a "trouble-maker-in-training," and the precocious Amaryllis, their youngest at 11, is an "emotional synesthete," who tastes, smells, and otherwise "consumes" the pain, rage, love, or joy of others, and is suspiciously dark-featured. Fearing that his wife is having an affair, Dick seeks the council of his local priest, Father Amadi, who suggests the Slepys take a mission to West Africa to help his nephew, Mawuli, run an aid organization. They go, but the mission is anything but the salve Dick had hoped for, and one event after another...shove the family into deep crisis. With every chapter, Meldrum jumps viewpoints and shifts time and space...her combination of coming-of-age and culture clash narratives has a seductive intensity."
   —Publishers Weekly

"Meldrum's story about an anything-but-ordinary family in crisis stretches from the shores of a Michigan lake to the heart of West Africa. The Slepys seem like a perfect family: Dad, Dick, is a pathologist who fell in love with Christina, who prefers to be called Seena, when he sat behind her in a college class. Their daughters, Mary Grace, Mary Catherine, Mary Tessa and Amaryllis, are both as similar and as different as siblings can be. The three Marys are blond and beautiful, as ephemeral as their Scandinavian-looking parents. But Amaryllis, known simply as Yllis, is not. Birthed in a blueberry field, she is dark, with blue eyes, and has a special gift that allows her to taste emotions and see souls. Dick, who rightly suspects he is not the father of his youngest child, suddenly decides he wants to move the family to West Africa. Seena argues against it, but Yllis detects that she really wants to go. Grace, who carries a secret with her, gives up college, and the entire family, including the devoutly religious Catherine, mean-to-the-bone Tessa and the family dog, packs up and goes...Meldrum writes beautifully...the family's move to West Africa, the story of Clara, an old woman back in Michigan, and the trajectory of all their intersecting destinies make for...interesting, storytelling. The book opens with Seena on trial in a native African court for Dick's murder and works its way back to that point in a colorful tale."
   —Kirkus Reviews

"disarming... a powerful story..."
   —Cleveland Plain Dealer

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