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Set during the swampy summer in 1982, this stunning debut novel follows eleven-year-old Sunshine Turner and her troubled father Billy as the secrets of their family's past swirl around them in the one-road town of Fingertip, Louisiana. During a hot summer of June moods, grubworms, and dark storms, Sunshine discovers stones in her chest - and learns the dangers her coming-of-age will bring about in the yellow house she shares with her father. Without the vocabulary to comprehend Billy's actions or her own changing body, Sunshine turns to an apocryphal story passed down from her grandmother: in the dark waters of the Black Bayou lives a crocodile with an insatiable appetite and a woman with a mysterious healing gift. As Sunshine's summer unspools, she turns to the one person who will need no explanation of the family secrets she carries--the crocodile bride.The Crocodile Bride is at once a heartbreakingly tender coming-of-age tale and a lyrical, haunting reflection on generational trauma. Reminiscent of Jesmyn Ward and Helen Oyeyemi, Ashleigh Bell Pedersen is a promising new voice in American fiction.
Ashleigh Bell Pedersen's fiction has been featured in New Stories from the South, The Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, Design Observer, The Silent History, A Strange Object, and the New York Public Library's Library Simplified app. Her story "Small and Heavy World" was a finalist for both Best American Short Stories and a Pushcart Prize, and her story "Crocodile" won The Masters Review 2020 Flash Fiction Contest. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, where she was the recipient of a teaching fellowship and Turow-Kinder Award. She currently resides in Brooklyn.
Leah Hampton is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and the winner of the University of Texas's Keene Prize for Literature, as well as North Carolina's James Hurst and Doris Betts prizes. Her work has appeared in storySouth, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Appalachian Heritage, North Carolina Literary Review, the Los Angeles Times, Ecotone, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. A former college instructor, Hampton lives in and writes about the Blue Ridge Mountains.