Description

A queer coming-of-age novel about addiction, belonging, and loving a place that doesn’t always love you back.

When sixteen-year-old Shae meets Cam, who is new to their small town in West Virginia, she thinks she has found someone who is everything she has ever wanted in a companion. The two become fast friends, and then more. And when Shae ends up pregnant, Cam begins a different transition—trying on clothes that Shae can no longer fit into and using female pronouns. Shae tries to be fully supportive as Cam becomes the person she wants and needs to be.

After a traumatic C-section and the birth of their daughter, Eva, Shae is given opioids to manage the intense pain. During the first year of Eva’s life, Shae’s dependence shifts from pain management to addiction, and her days begin to revolve around getting more pills. In the heart of West Virginia, opioids are dispensed as freely as candy, and Shae is just one of many to fall victim to addiction. Meanwhile, as Cam continues to transition, she embraces new relationships and faces the reality of being a trans woman in rural America.

Shae is as much about these two young women as it is about the home they both love despite its limitations. Following the acclaimed Sugar Run and Perpetual West, this is Mesha Maren’s most intense and intimate novel yet.

What's Inside

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Praise

“Mesha Maren paints a vivid, unforgettable portrait of two young women—one cis and one trans—living in West Virginia and trying to break free from the confinements of gender, class, and sexuality. Mesha Maren is a visionary storyteller and her prose is incandescent. The sentences shimmer with precision, elegance, and grit. It’s the kind of book that gets under your skin. I couldn't put it down. Shae is a beautiful, big-hearted novel about love, desire, and daring to be one’s self. I will be thinking about the characters for a long time.” —Carter Sickels, author of The Prettiest Star
“Maren brilliantly gives voice to a New South, introducing us to two unforgettable characters whose journeys echo the struggles of queer people across the country. This book is essential for the new queer canon emerging from Southern writers. I can’t wait to put this in the hands of so many people who need it and will no doubt see themselves in this beautiful narrative.” —Garrard Conley, author of Boy Erased and All the World Beside
“An expansive, quietly devastating novel that fearlessly explores queer love, motherhood and the siren call of addiction." —Jenny Offill, author of Weather
Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of 2024

“Most Anticipated Queer Adult Fiction, January-June 2024” - LGBTQ Reads
“Maren is an astute and indispensable chronicler of Appalachian queerness.” 
  —Electric Literature
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