Ellen Urbani (Guatemala 1991-92)

Ellen Urbani’s (Guatemala 1991-92) memoir, When I Was Elena was published in 2006 by The Permanent Press. It is her Peace Corps story of living in Guatemala. It is also her story of coming of age as young women in the guerrilla-infested mountains of Latin America. Her narrative is interlaced, chapter-by-chapter, with tales told from the perspectives of seven HCN women she meets in her tour.img_5185-2_4_2

Now Ellen has returned with her second book. Next August, Forest Avenue Press, will publish her  novel, Landfall. It will be released on August 29, 2015, ten years to the day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans.

A summary of the novel from Forest Avenue Press outlines the plot: In a car laden with supplies intended for hurricane victims, Rose and her mother catapult off the road onto the shoals of the Black Warrior River in Alabama, killing an unidentified storm survivor. To escape the scene, Rose, orphaned by the crash, laces the dead girl’s sneakers onto her own feet and cannot bring herself to take them off. When she learns she shares not only shoes but a name and a birth year with the Jane Doe, Rose embarks upon a guilt-assuaging odyssey to retrace the girl’s last steps-more than 600 miles across the still-reeling South-and carry home the news of her death to her unsuspecting kin. Told from the alternating perspectives of these two teenagers, Rose and Rosebud, one white, one black, whose stories and destinies surge together in wild and wonderful crests of prose, Landfall proves that when the secrets we bury and the histories we cannot bear to repeat converge, they may well become the truths that sustain us in a storm.

In selecting Landfall for publication, Laura Stanfill, Forest Avenue Press publisher, writes, “Our committee fell immediately and irrevocably in love with Landfall and the lives of these strong mothers and daughters. It’s a eulogy to Rosebud, and to Rose’s well-intentioned mom, and to all the victims of Katrina, and in giving the dead voices, Ellen is able to tell us the untold stories, the secrets held tight, that would otherwise have been lost to loss.”

Congratulations, Ellen!

For more information, check out: http://www.forestavenuepress.com/forest-avenue-press-announces-its-2015-selection/