In Little Green, Loretta Stinson’s stunning, redemptive first novel, tragedy leaves Janie Marek orphaned and in the care of her stepmother. The novel opens two years later, in 1976, when Janie, at sixteen, runs away. A ride she’s hitchhiked leaves her on the freeway outside a Northwestern town. A strip club called The Habit is the closest thing within walking distance, and Janie finds herself working there. Janie falls for Paul Jesse, a drug dealer, and moves in with him as he spirals into addiction and becomes physically abusive. As the violence escalates, Janie finds a job in a bookstore and begins to establish her independence. Leaving Paul after a brutal beating, Janie must reconcile their relationship and make the most difficult, most dangerous choice she’ll ever make.
Like Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Loretta Stinson portrays the psychology of a woman who has experienced violence at the hands of someone she loves and the complexity of leaving with sensitivity and insight. This is a life-affirming story about a woman who finds strength in books, in the promise of education, and in the community of friends who help her find a way out.
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Stinson, thankfully, doesn’t allow the narrative to wallow or glorify, and the hope found is hard-won and genuine.
- Publishers Weekly
Stinson’s novel is a brutal but ultimately empowering story about the long road one girl has to travel, literally and figuratively, before she can find out who she is.
Loretta Stinson’s novel is about one lonely young woman’s harrowing coming of age rings true at the same time it astonishes. Little Green is tender and tough, equal parts grit and grace. It’s a riveting and unforgettable debut.
- Cheryl Strayed
- Author of Wild and Torch
Little Green is an engaging novel about the kind of people who can save you from your own life and the kind of people who will starve you of it. It’s about the people and the things that get a hold of us and won’t let go. It’s about Janie, a young girl who finds all of this in a dark bar on the first page and stays with the reader long after the last one. Stinson has written an accurate and honest portrayal of people trying to find their lives or leave them behind.
- Jill Talbot
- Author of Loaded: Women and Addiction
Loretta Stinson’s Little Green had me in its grip after the first sentence and didn’t let me go until the end. Stinson’s characters are vivid on the page and Janie in particular is a character I won’t soon forget. We’re dawn into a gritty world of drugs, booze, and horrible abuse along with this vulnerable teenager, and we watch in anguish as her dreams fail and her illusions shatter. Even though the circumstances are harrowing, Stinson does well to infuse love and hope and community into Janie’s story, so that we’re able to witness a lost young woman take the first triumphant steps toward self-discovery.
- Debra Gwartney
- Author of Live Through This