Solwitz, Sharon Once, in Lourdes

Sharon Solwitz‘s novel, Once, in Lourdes (Spiegel & Grau, 2017), is the story of four close friends in the fictional town of Lourdes, Michigan, who decide, during the summer before their senior year of high school, to make a suicide pact. The four friends are all struggling with something beyond normal adolescent angst–Kay is tormented by her weight and the new stepfamily she acquired after her mother’s death; CJ hides who he really is even from the friends; Saint struggles not to destroy everyone around him; and Vera is horrified by a shameful secret. The two weeks of the pact take place during the tumultuous summer of 1968. As the ground shifts beneath them, the four friends confront who they are and what the world means to them.

Sharon Solwitz is the author of a novel, Bloody Mary, and a collection of short stories, Blood and Milk, which won the Carl Sandburg Prize from Friends of the Chicago Public Library, and the prize for adult fiction from the Society of Midland Authors, and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Several of her stories have been selected for inclusion in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and in Best American Short Stories. Other honors for her individual stories, published in such magazines as TriQuarterly, Mademoiselle, and Ploughshares, include the Katherine Anne Porter Prize, the Nelson Algren Literary Award, and grants and fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council. Solwitz teaches fiction writing at Purdue University and lives in Chicago with her husband, the poet Barry Silesky.