Small Great Joys

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Not fallen. Not broken. Not whole.

It is 1880, Nebraska.

All seventeen-year-old Angel wants is to go someplace where no one knows her name or—more importantly—what happened to her. However, Angel’s plans are disrupted when she becomes stranded in an unfamiliar town. With no means to leave and no place to stay, Angel finds aid in an unexpected place: Nathan, a childhood acquaintance with scars of his own.

All nineteen-year-old Nathan wants is to leave every memory of his father far, far behind. But when Nathan’s path leads him to Angel, he begins to realize that his father’s influence has reached further than he could ever have imagined.

As Nathan and Angel face the prejudices of the townspeople together, their tenuous friendship begins to grow into something more. However, when Nathan’s father returns, Angel and Nathan must decide whether they are willing fight for the life they’ve created for themselves, or whether they will once again leave everything they love—including each other—behind.

This title was previously published as Angel.


Small Great Joys has for sure been my longest running project, although it’s definitely gone through several extremely different iterations. When I was a kid, I loooooved the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn books. Loved. I wanted so badly to go back in time to be friends with those boys. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but a couple thoughts from the books stuck with me and started creating their own storyline in the back of my brain.

Eventually, the story morphed into a narrative about abuse and victim blaming–the ways that Nathan and Angel’s pasts shape their perceptions of themselves and each other, and how Nathan and Angel ultimately help each other to see more in themselves than the brokenness they feel. Here’s the thing though: yeah, you know bad things happen to the characters, but it’s not graphic, and it’s not the focus of the book. There’s a sense of hope, that things will get better, and that healing can happen.