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Wild Ground: A Novel (Hardcover)

Wild Ground: A Novel By Emily Usher Cover Image
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A story of first love that will break your heart, this bittersweet debut novel follows two teenagers whose all-consuming relationship is tested by the forces of class, prejudice, and addiction.

“Reading this book is like holding a heartbeat in your hands.”—Amy Jo Burns, author of Mercury

There were parts that were bliss, there were parts that were full and faultless and laden with joy. The way everything Danny and I did, everything we felt, we did, we felt together. The way we loved and loved and loved each other.

From the beginning, it has always been Neef and her mother, Chrissy—troubled, beautiful, at the mercy of addiction and a revolving door of bad relationships. When Neef turns twelve, they move from inner-city Leeds to a small Yorkshire town to follow Chrissy’s much-older boyfriend, who runs the local pub. But for Neef, perhaps it’s also a chance to start over. On her first day in her new home, it becomes Neef and Danny, the boy who captures her attention planting flowers in the pub garden—and then, it is somehow always Danny.

Danny is seen as an outsider by those around him; half Jamaican, he and his father are the only people of color in their community. Immediately drawn to each other, Neef and Danny form a friendship that gives way to the slow burn of romance as they grow up. Desperate to escape the confines of their world, Neef and Danny cling to each other throughout their adolescence, even as their relationship strains against the same forces that hold their families hostage: substance abuse, poverty, racism. For a while, though, it seems like it could be Neef and Danny forever.

But then, finally, it is just Neef: sober, living in London, trying to tell herself she never knew a boy called Danny, never loved him, never had him wrenched away. That is, until someone from those days comes seeking redemption, and she cannot pretend any longer.

Braiding together past and present, Wild Ground introduces us to a young woman both coming of age and coming to terms with herself. This tender and moving debut, at once heartbreaking and hopeful, is an aching love story that you will find impossible to forget.

About the Author

Emily Usher grew up in West Yorkshire, and lived in Salford, Sheffield, and London before relocating to Australia. She is an author, an award-winning short story writer, and a freelance writer specializing in the not-for-profit sector. Emily has also taught creative writing in prisons both in Australia and in the UK. Wild Ground is her first novel.

Praise For…

“A hypnotic story of both beauty and betrayal . . . Reading this book is like holding a heartbeat in your hands. It’s bare, melodic, and thrums with a bold and aching pulse.”—Amy Jo Burns, author of Mercury

“Emily Usher captures first love in all its tender, aching radiance, in a heartrending and gorgeously written portrait of adolescence.”—Justine Champine, author of Knife River

“A love story that captures the realities of being young and oppressed, yet hopeful and searching, Wild Ground is honest, unfailingly compassionate, and so touching as to be heartbreaking.”—Beth Raymer, author of Fireworks Every Night

“This is a novel for anyone who remembers the intensity of first love or has fought for survival against stacked odds. Emily Usher has written an aching coming-of-age story that is heartbreaking and profound, gorgeous and unforgettable.  It shimmers with longing.”—Mary Pauline Lowry, author of The Roxy Letters

“Written in a fresh vernacular tinged with romanticism and regret, Wild Ground is an intoxicating debut from a compelling new voice.”—Adelle Stripe, author of Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile

“A tale of love and loss that is as addictive as Normal People—but, more than that, Wild Ground is a thought-provoking examination of how racism pervades and causes harm, how our histories haunt us, and how dreams grow and wither. It’s a propulsive, gut-wrenching read.”—Jenna Clake, author of Disturbance

“A glittering exploration of love’s many faces, Wild Ground aches with hard-won hope and bruised tenderness.”—Colin Walsh, author of Kala

“It’s incredible and I couldn’t put it down . . . Emily Usher’s writing is extraordinary.”—Carmen Marcus, author of How Saints Die

“Both harrowing and hopeful, a generative bildungsroman from an exciting debut novelist . . . Usher’s prose, much of it written in northern English dialect, is electric—each character, place, and location surges with a gripping urgency and vitality. Her narrative world, however chilling, feels totally honest, alive, and exacting. Usher’s pacing, too, is remarkable; each turn is unexpected and yet wholly fitting, each transition between present and past seamless and ensnaring.”Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593731291
ISBN-10: 0593731298
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 432
Language: English