One woman's path to rediscovering herself through music, romance, and a little vigilantism
Inside Half Moon Bay, a sparkling California coastal town, Ester Prynn is dulled and diminished by struggles with work, money, marriage, her senile father, a troubled teenage son, and old guilt she can’t assuage. When a masked gunman robs the convenience store where Ester works, he upends her fraught life and propels her toward passions buried, like singing; desires discovered, like a same-sex infatuation; and wrongs righted, like bringing the violent assailant to justice. But as the armed robber commits new crimes and continues to evade capture, the trauma from the holdup climbs, threatening Ester’s newfound delights and longings and forcing her to contend with her burning regrets and what-ifs. In the reckoning between Ester and these growing, molten upsets, she’s faced with enormous choices and must determine what and who can bring her to her best life.
The Holdup Imalive Blow Your House Down How Not to Love Them Nice Shock Night Out In-N-Out Overflowing Sing I Numb Fish Tiny Countless Acts I’ll Take Widow, Please Catastrophe Amazing Good News Don’t Know Much Home Invasion A Fix Soul Star What We’re Going to Do with You Essential Body Part Scratchers The Big Date Serial Killer Get Ready To Be Themselves An Artist of Ordinary Things Line of Duty The Burn It There Will Be an Answer Glass Instrument A Change of Tune This Better Work Intertwined Secret Find Shark Telltale Scar Road Spill Who’s There? Wrecking Ball Déjà Vu The Yellow Cottage The Split Lockdown Once Upon a Time Fetch Breaking News Rise Up The Proposal Acknowledgments
ETHEL ROHAN is an award-winning essayist, novelist, and short story writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Irish Times, PEN America, and Tin House. Her previous books include The Weight of Him and In the Event of Contact.
“In this beautiful, searing novel, Ethel Rohan deftly maneuvers the aftermath of violence, of a woman losing and finding herself, of a mother remembering who she is. With the gorgeous prose and heart-wrenching detail Rohan is known for, Sing, I is a battle cry drenched in grace. It, quite simply, sings.” —Lindsay Hunter, author of Hot Springs Drive
“Sing, I grips the reader from its early harrowing pages, when protagonist Ester Prynne faces a life or death situation that brings her life choices into sharp relief. As violence mounts in the background, and Ester paradoxically inches towards her truer self, Rohan examines the cost of living in the shadow of both a uniquely American violence and the age-old constrictions that curtail women’s lives with obligation over authenticity—and, ultimately, the joys of breaking free.” —Gina Frangello, author of Blow Your House Down: A Story of Family, Feminism, and Treason
“Ethel Rohan’s Sing, I is a narrative marvel. A terrifying robbery at gunpoint in the convenience store where she works forever changes Ester Prynn, in ways big and small. It’s a captivating experience to be inside Ester’s always-working mind as she figures out who she is and who she wants to be.” —Marcy Dermansky, author of Hurricane Girl
“I was enraptured by Sing, I, the story of the cracking open of one woman’s life and her reexamination of the connections within. Ethel Rohan’s writing is as lyrical as a cantata and as soul-stirring as a gospel choir. Romantic, thrilling, and pitch-perfect — it will have you applauding from the first chapter to the very last line.” —Dominic Lim, author of All the Right Notes
“Ethel Rohan’s irresistible, affirming new novel Sing I deftly balances along the axis of stasis and agency as it wrangles with the question of how to live an honest, fully integrated life in our current moment of chaos and constant overwhelm. We are in rock-solid hands with Rohan, a consummate stylist, storyteller and deep humanitarian, who brings her characters to life through wry humor, a big heart, and an insightful eye. You will root for these characters. This is a gratifying and propulsive read. I ate it up!” — Sara Lippmann, author of Lech
“Ester Prynn is haunted, like her almost-namesake, by shame. She is living the same life so many of us are, going through the paces, in a loveless marriage, parenting a struggling kid. When a gunman holds up the store where she works, she knows she must change her life. With great compassion and an eye for the beautiful moments of regular life, Ethel Rohan tells the story of how shame can reveal to us that we aren't being true to ourselves. Rohan is one of our finest writers and this book, like its title, sings.” —Matthew Salesses, author of The Sense of Wonder
“Sing, I hooked me immediately. There is an intense intimacy to Ethel Rohan’s depictions of the physical—from food to bodies to gunmetal. These pages ring with a visceral bond as they bring us Ester Prynn, a narrator who yanks you right into her world, who’s honest and real and impossible not to love.” —Shanthi Sekaran, author of Lucky Boy and writer for NBC’s New Amsterdam
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