ATLANTA, Ga. (September 17, 2019) — A nosy young girl is on a quest to learn her family’s hidden truths no matter who it upsets. An enthralling young heroine full of spit and vinegar with a sugar center.

Ten-year-old Willie Mae doesn’t just live near the town of Feral, she’s a bit feral herself. Spending her days eavesdropping, exploring on her bike, and avoiding her brutish big brother, she’s determined to uncover the secrets adults are clearly trying to keep from her. Raised in a Holy Roller church-going family, Willie finds out about knife fights, a mysterious lynching, and how lecherous old men view young girls. The ugly realities and heart wrenching lessons she discovers shake her to the core of her soul. A finalist for the 2018 Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest, this splendid collage will delight readers with touching memories of their own adolescence.

“In writing Feral, I was trying to get back to the young girl who wanted to hear the “true” stories, the ones adults often shield children from hearing. I wanted to make the narrative voice simultaneously in that realm of childhood, but also reflecting a more mature or adult perspective—the way memory puts you directly into a scene, even though time has separated you from that specific experience,” says June Sylvester Saraceno.

Feral, North Carolina, 1965 is a moving quick-read of interconnected stories. June brilliantly weaves wistful childhood tales with darker aspects of the time.

June Sylvester Saraceno comes from a family of storytellers—sea-faring folk, preachers, coffee-fueled aunties, and good-time gabbers. Her stories harken back to her days growing up in the South, and she hopes to make her readers laugh, feel nostalgic, and recognize some of themselves. Feral, North Carolina, 1965 is her first novel.


Praise for Feral, North Carolina, 1965:

“Aside from a perfect title, June Sylvester Saraceno’s slender forest fire of a book is full of delights. What a welcome fictional triumph from one of my favorite poets. I am only sad that there aren’t a few hundred more pages!”
— Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels, winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Fiction Award

“An impressive first novel, both as story and in its fine use of language to bring either a landscape, a face, or a room colorfully to life. Masterfully told, full of discovery and surprise, the novel is both enjoyable and rewarding.”
— Peter Makuck, 2010 Pulitzer Prize nominee

“June Sylvester Saraceno has created a character for the ages; Willie Mae Miller is curious, clear-eyed, hilarious, and a little bit feral, herself—on her trusty bike, she becomes the perfect tour guide to 1965’s North Carolina. I love this book with every bit of my heart.”
— Gayle Brandeis

“Feral caught my breath and shot it back to girlhood so deeply I felt my ten-year-old spine shiver. June Sylvester Saraceno has so profoundly entered the voice and body and sight of a girl from the rural south–image by image, thought by thought, sensory perceptions crescendoing into that ferocious beautiful knot made from place and being, both pushing down too hard on the body of a girl and yet pushing her toward flight. A love letter to all the girls who run in the world with their hair on fire. A heartsong to girlhood.”
 — Lidia Yuknavitch, bestselling author of The Book of Joan


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