Nancy Scott Hanway

Evidence of V by Sheila O'Connor (Rose Metal Press, 2019)

Must-read fictionNancy Scott HanwayComment

I’m so excited about this novel. Evidence of V by Sheila O’Connor comes out next month. It dovetails with two historical interests of mine—how girls (and women, of course) are punished for their sexuality, and the 1930s in Minnesota, the setting of my work-in-progress. I know Sheila slightly (through a mutual friend, mostly) and she’s an amazing writer. One of the compelling elements of the novel is that it builds on a traumatic family story. Sheila’s maternal grandmother was placed in a juvenile hall for “immoral” behavior—an unplanned teenage pregnancy. I’d always known that women and girls who had babies outside of marriage were treated as social outcasts in the early 20th century, but not that they were institutionalized— it’s jaw-dropping news. Makes me so angry.

I love novels that use the emotional weight of documents, letters, and photographs, too, so I’m curious about how Sheila does this. Here’s a link to an excerpt on the Rose Metal Press site. It sounds like an ambitious, sad, and brilliant novel that I can’t wait to read.

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