My Radio Radio, Jessie van Eerden’s second novel, was released with Vandalia Press, the creative imprint of West Virginia University Press, in April 2016, and was selected for the Top 10 of 2016 by ImageUpdate.

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Click here to order the book from Vandalia Press.

Read a review in Kirkus Reviews which calls the novel “a haunting, original meditation,” and another in ForeWord Reviews: “Its pages are sharpened by contrasts—between the dull nature of a regimented religious existence, and the colorful needs of a young girl.”

“Within our world, ripe with the over-thinking of experience, it’s rare to encounter a coming-of-age story quite as visceral or unselfconsciously honest as that found within Jessie van Eerden’s My Radio Radio. Perhaps it’s the subtly surrealist thread that weaves its way through the tale that disarms the reader, setting her up, even readying her, for the unpacking of whatever symbolic gifts of meaning might emerge from the text. Wings. Radio. A baby chick. The click whirr, hiss hmm of a dying man’s machine. Yet, in spite of all that is foreshadowed, in spite of every ounce of allegory, it is within the journey of twelve-year-old Omi Ruth that each of the answers reside, should one choose to listen.”

—Kelly Sauvage Angel; read her full NewPages review.

“Reading My Radio Radio is like swimming under the luminous skin of life, above us ghostly insights come and go, below us the deep unknown threatens, and then we poke through pores of enlightenment and recognize things hidden since the foundation of the world. Jessie van Eerden is a writer that makes it seem the rest of us are merely scratching the surface.”

—Richard Schmitt, author of The Aerialist

Synopsis:

The members of Dunlap Fellowship of All Things in Common share everything from their meager incomes to the only functioning toilet in the community house—everything, that is, except secrets. When Omi Ruth Wincott, the youngest member of the disintegrating common-purse community in this small Indiana town, loses her only brother, Woodrun, she withdraws from everyone and fixates on a secret desire:  she wishes only for an extravagant headstone to mark Woodrun’s grave, an expense that the strict, parsimonious community can’t—or won’t—pay for.  In her loneliness, Omi Ruth’s only ties to the world remain her National Geographic magazines and a new resident in the house, Northrop, an old man caught between living and dying, maintained in a vegetative state by hospice care.

Observing everything with the keen eye of a girl with a photographic memory, Omi Ruth finds herself learning to grieve in the company of unlikely strangers.  With the help of a homeless and pregnant Tracie Casteel, a rebellious Amish boy named Spencer Frye, and the smooth-talking Vaughn Buey who works third shift at Dunlap’s RV plant, Omi Ruth discovers that there are two things of which there is no shortage in the world’s common purse—love and loss.

More Reviews:

“There are few contemporary novels that I truly admire. Van Eerden’s novel rises to the top of my list.”

Margot Singer, author of The Pale of Settlement

“A book of surprises—surprises that emanate not so much from dramatic action but as a rich consequence of the crafting of character through language.  Page after page, the reader is treated to beautifully cadenced, strikingly voiced observations and reflections that shape the poetic sensibility of the coming-of-age narrator, Omi Ruth. The reader reads and keeps reading for the wonder of Omi Ruth’s utterances, for her quirky and tender insights.”

—Karen Brennan, author of little dark and Monsters

“It’s rare to fall for a voice, to want nothing more than just to listen. So I finished Jessie van Eerden’s My Radio Radio feeling something like grief, lovelorn, my heart captive to the voice of Omi Ruth, a girl who sees the world so fresh she makes it new.”

—Kevin Oderman, author of White Vespa and Cannot Stay: Essays on Travel

My Radio Radio will tune you in from the beginning and leave you wanting more by the end. Jessie van Eerden is at her tender and lyrical best in this story of longing and belonging.  Her young narrator, Naomi Ruth, is a kissing cousin to Ellen Foster but finally in a league and family of her own. Welcome her with open arms.”

Paul J. Willis, author of The Alpine Tales