About The Book
It’s not until she whispers into the ear of a dead boy that Vienna Oaks realizes it’s time to come clean.
As the live-in manager at her father’s funeral home in Burling Gates, Missouri, Vienna has succumbed to the mediocrity and abject loneliness of her life. Her days are suspended between the mundane and the misery of her clients’ throttling grief; of changing light bulbs and encountering strangers as bereft as she. But after orchestrating the funeral for a little boy named Parker that prompts one of her severe panic attacks, she finds herself at a personal crossroads in which she is forced to confront the pregnancy she’s been hiding, her childhood nemesis, the boy she never stopped loving, and the deep-seated secret surrounding her mother’s death more than a decade before.
In another part of town, Heather Turnbull has just learned from her estranged father that her mother, a lifelong recluse, has died. When making arrangements for her funeral, Heather chooses Oaks Family Funeral home, where she comes face to face with Vienna–the woman she tortured throughout grade school; the woman who has recently had an affair with her husband.
Together, Vienna and Heather navigate through a makeshift friendship born of circumstance and devised to assuage their ambivalence towards motherhood and their tenuous relationship with reality, discovering, in tandem, the art of forgiveness and the will to go on.
Told in a dazzling voice, and teeming with wit, wisdom, and poignancy, Ericka Clay’s debut novel, Unkept, explores the thorny landscape of childhood trauma and the ferocious politics between little girls—bringing to mind the transcendence found in Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye and the heart and hilarity in Six Feet Under.
Ericka Clay is a novelist and the founding editor of Tipsy Lit, an online poetry magazine that cuts the bullshit. She’s been awarded a number of times by Writers Digest for various short fiction pieces, has written four novels (one of which placed as a quarter-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest), and has had the privilege of sharing her craft by teaching writing classes and holding writers’ workshops in the South Texas area. Ericka was born in 1985 and lives in Louisville with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and an insatiable need to push buttons, both figuratively and literally.