Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Set in contemporary Louisville, Leesa Cross-Smith’s mesmerizing first novel surrounding the death of a police officer is a requiem for marriage, friendship and family, from an author Roxane Gay has called “a consummate storyteller.”
One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2018: Entertainment Weekly, Southern Living, Harper's BAZAAR, The Millions, Electric Lit, Book Riot, BookBub, Chicago Review of Books, POPSUGAR, Refinery29, NYLON, and SheReads
Evia classically-trained ballerinawas nine months pregnant when her husband Eamon was killed in the line of duty on a steamy morning in July. Now, it is winter, and Eamon's adopted brother Dalton has moved in to help her raise six-month-old Noah.
Whiskey & Ribbons is told in three intertwining, melodic voices: Evi in present day, as she’s snowed in with Dalton during a freak blizzard; Eamon before his murder, as he prepares for impending fatherhood and grapples with the danger of his profession; and Dalton, as he struggles to make sense of his life next to Eamon’s, and as he decides to track down the biological father he’s never known.
In the vein of Jojo Moyes’ After You, Whiskey & Ribbons explores the life that continues beyond loss, with a complicated brotherly dynamic reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys. It’s a meditation on grief, hope, motherhood, brotherhood and surrogate fatherhood. Above all, it’s a novel about what it meansand whether it’s possibleto heal.
A PEN Open Book Award Nominee, Leesa Cross-Smith has been a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and Iowa Short Fiction Award. She is the author of the short story collection Every Kiss a War and lives in Louisville, KY.
What People are Saying About This
author of Eat Only When You're Hungry Lindsay Hunter
" Whiskey & Ribbons is the kind of book you cancel everything to curl up with. Don’t even try to put it down; you won’t be able to. Leesa Cross-Smith writes with an open heart and a deft touch, crafting a beautiful meditation on marriage, family, and the hope within loss. I fell in love with these characters. I joined them in their heartbreak, their lust, their yearning, and I missed them after the last page."
author of the novels Sons & Other Flammable Object Porochista Khakpour
Leesa Cross-Smith's Whiskey & Ribbons is an unforgettable debut. The death of a police officer is at the heart of this powerful, moving polyphonic saga, and the stunning lyricism of the style only matches the heartbreaking poetry of its substance. Cross-Smith examines lovers, brothers, mothers, fathers and sons with such mammoth empathy that this is one of those books I find essential for making sense of our world today.
The Wrong Way to Save Your Life Megan Stielstra
"Beautiful and brutal, a gut-punch and a poemI love this book. I love its characters, their complicated tangle of desire and grief. I love its craft, the back and forth dance between memory and possibility. I found myself talking aloud to Evangeline: Let go, I whispered. Or maybe she whispered it to me. I don't know. She's inside of me now, my head and my heart. I'll tell you what: Cross-Smith is a master."
"In Whiskey & Ribbons, Leesa Cross Smith has given us a story of decent, ardent-hearted friends thrust into an unimaginable situation, and its survivors respond with equally surprising grace to impossibly difficult circumstances. Here is a slim, elegant novel that is brilliantly defiant in what it refuses to mention, and clear-eyed in its focus on something we all need more of: a close look at good people navigating unthinkable tragedy."