Nearer than the Sky

“I nodded, squeezing my eyes shut to keep my own tears from escaping. This was an apology; this was sorry. Here were the words Ma never said.”

To give you a first impression of the book: Trailer

After Tammy Greenwood’s first novel Breathing Water, which won the Sherwood Anderson Award for Best First Novel in 1999, her second novel Nearer than the Sky had to be another compelling and rousing book. It was. With the unclear and some painful flashbacks of a woman’s childhood and a description of the life she lives as an adult, the reader can be aware of the horrible disease that’s called Munchausen by proxy. Unclear, because you’ll be confused while reading the first half of the book when you’re unfamiliar with this disease, like I was. Greenwood writes in a certain way, so you know as much as the main character Indie knows. That’s why some flashbacks, like when Indie sees something happen that has to do with her mother, are difficult to understand. Still because of her style of writing Greenwood touched me deeply, like when you read this fragment about Indie being a child, you’ll feel sorry for her immediately:

“GET UP!” she hollered. She kept yanking and the chair tilted backward. I tried to hold on to the edge of the table, but the Formica was slippery. Suddenly I lost my balance entirely and I was falling backward. My head hit the floor and bounced a bit. The pain was dull in the back of my head. “I wasn’t doin’ nothin’, Ma!” I screamed

In general the book is about a woman, Indie Brown, who lives in Maine. When her mother’s health gets worse Indie returns to Arizona, where she used to live as a child. Indie is confronted with things from the past, and gradually everything she never understood about her mother and her younger sister Lily becomes clear.

This book shows how someone became the person she is, and how important your childhood is for your personal development. This is related to Greenwood because she has two children and because of her fascination by childhood. Her books are based on fiction, but also truth is important for her to write about, as you can read in this book about a disease and how it influences your life. Greenwood isn’t only a novelist, but also a teacher (she teaches creative writing) and a photographer. Click here to open her site. Even though she is a photographer, the truth is a recurring subject; none of her photos are staged.

Most of her books take place in Vermont, where Greenwood was born in 1969. Another recurring place is Flagstaff, Arizona, where she moved to in 1992. Tammy Greenwood, who is also the author of the famous and awarded book Two Rivers, has written in total six novels. Her books aren’t really funny or romantic at all, they’re sad. She has written several times about death, relationships and adults with problems of the past.

Even though it’s hard to read the first few chapters, I still recommend this book. First you’ll be confused, but her style of writing will take you into the story so you’ll keep reading.

“A beautiful, sensitively told tale… 
T. Greenwood’s fresh lyrical prose keeps you 
captivated and terrified at the same time”
-Glamour Magazine

Her seventh novel will be released soon, I have high expectations and I’m sure many other people have too!

By Kelly Dake,


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