THE MOON IN DAYTIME (or RIVER RAT, a love story)

a novel by Sarah Brownsberger

Complete at 115,000 words. Literary/upmarket.

This novel for adults pokes serious fun at our ideas about work and worth.

A resourceful mother of four, faced with divorce and minimum-wage poverty, knits her seedy New England town into a shadow economy of thrift and aid. So popular and needful does her project prove, it riles the local lords of industry and ultimately irks the feds. It looks like longtime-homemaker Miriam is on the wrong side of history, as well as the ledger books and the gun; her husband lives in a penthouse now, while she can scarcely keep herself fed. All the same, it’s unclear who has chosen the better part, as a new generation conspires with Miriam to find a way to nest, live, and raise their young by the river.


HIS TONE OF VOICE [working title]

a novel by Sarah Brownsberger
(YA, <85,000 words, in late revisions/under critique, est. completion date December 2019)

Why don’t the black neighbors speak to Ellen Burns? What is she guilty of, at fifteen, besides being milk-white and Bostonian? They don’t even know her. She’s only in Prestland, Ohio, for the summer, to stay at her aunt and uncle’s historic farmhouse and take music lessons at the nearby conservatory. It’s 1980: Racism belongs to the past; integrarion won! Ellen’s aunt, a painter and Ellen’s hero in art and life, has been married to Ed Lowry, a son of  Prestland’s august black community, for twelve years.

Yet Uncle Ed’s cousins, who hang out with their friends in the cellar below Ellen’s room, snub Ellen cold, and that’s the tip of the iceberg. At Ed’s church, the pastor rails against outsiders. Even Uncle Ed gets mad, if Ellen deviates from his rules about where to go in town, how to act, and even what to wear.

Focussing on her music, Ellen ignores her uncle’s concerns. Only when a threatening package arrives does Ellen grasp that her neighbors’ problem with her is not personal. Her presence on the old farm is fanning the heat in a brush-pile of race resentment against her uncle’s community. The resentment goes back to settler days, but the Aaronite Guard, a supremacist group targeting interracial marriage, is new.

When an emergency disrupts the community’s creative security measures, Ellen must overcome what Edith Wharton called the “hard, bright blindness” of privilege to follow her neighbors’ cues and act in concert with her Uncle’s young cousins to help preserve an historic refuge for the next generation.