Rebellion: A Novel (Hardcover)
"Molly Patterson is a writer of the first order, and her debut novel is a revelatory, immersive miracle. Ambitious in scope and exacting in its language, Rebellion becomes a grand exploration of fate and circumstance."—Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus
A sweeping debut that crosses continents and generations, Rebellion tells the story of Addie, Louisa, Hazel, and Juanlan: four women whose rebellions, big and small, are as unexpected as they are unforgettable.
At the heart of the novel lies a mystery: In 1900, Addie, an American missionary in China, goes missing during the Boxer Rebellion, leaving her family back home to wonder at her fate. Her sister Louisa—newly married and settled in rural Illinois—anticipates tragedy, certain that Addie’s fate is intertwined with her own legacy of loss.
In 1958, Louisa’s daughter Hazel has her world upended by the untimely death of her husband. It’s harvest time, and with two small children and a farm to tend, she is determined to keep her land and family intact. Yet even while she learns to enjoy her independence, Hazel realizes that the tradeoff for some freedoms is more precious than expected.
Nearly half a century later, Juanlan has returned to her parents’ home in Heng’an. With her father ill, her sister-in-law soon to give birth, and the construction of a new highway rapidly changing the town she once knew, she feels pressured on every side by powers outside her control. Frustrated by obligation and the smallness of her own dreams, Juanlan at last dares to follow desire, only to discover an anger that cannot be contained.
Moving from rural Illinois to the far reaches of China, Rebellion brilliantly links through action and consequence the story of four women, spanning more than a century. From the secrets they keep and the adventures they embark on, to the passions that ultimately drive them forward, the characters at the center of this electric debut dramatically fight against expectation in pursuit of their own thrilling fates.
About the Author
Molly Patterson was born in St. Louis and lived in China for several years. The winner of a 2014 Pushcart Prize, she was also the 2012-2013 writer-in-residence at St. Albans School in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared in several magazines, including the Atlantic and the Iowa Review. Rebellion is her first novel.
“Patterson’s epic narrative derives its propulsive intimacy from the personal insurrections of four women against their circumstances and expectations…Patterson adroitly zigzags in time, threading the women’s journeys with subtle detail and embellishing them with metaphors specific to each character.”
— New York Times Book Review
“[A] super debut… Patterson creates intimate moments that are moving but not manipulative. By not connecting all the dots, she allows her readers to bond more deeply with her characters in this refreshingly unsentimental historical novel.”
“A talent to watch, Patterson manages to travel broad swaths of history and geography while creating intimate moments with a refreshing lack of sentimentality; and the novel’s sense of adventure makes it addictive reading.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Read it for…the author’s dazzling ability to capture disparate settings…and to weave together the stories of four strong women.”
— BookPage’s Six of the Brightest Names in Fiction
“[A] remarkable debut… This is a book about the quiet unfolding of lives and the kind of rebellion that comes from following one’s heart.”
“Molly Patterson is a writer of the first order, and her debut novel is a revelatory, immersive miracle. Ambitious in scope and exacting in its language, Rebellion becomes a grand exploration of fate and circumstance. It becomes its own wondrous universe.”
— Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus
“I found Molly Patterson’s Rebellion hypnotically compelling. I was taken by the grand sweep of the story, the simple, direct beauty of the prose, and above all these characters - people I came to know so well. Patterson captures rich, complex lives with great sensitivity and humanity.”
— Peter Orner, Author of NBCC Award Finalist, Am I Alone Here? and Love and Shame and Love
“The women who occupy Molly Patterson’s debut novel share a bond that stretches across continents and generations: a desire for more out of life. Rebellion is an epic, electric novel about the large and small ways defiance can transform a person.“
— Michele Filgate, writer and contributing editor at Literary Hub
“Molly Patterson has crafted an immersive tornado of a novel. With equal parts force and intimacy, Rebellion reaches across time and continents to connect the inner lives of four kindred women, each of them at battle with the limitations of their lives. Patterson writes with tremendous attention, the strokes of her words fluent and vivid, and it is a rare pleasure to feel that what we have conjured in our minds is exactly what Patterson intended. Rebellion is a throbbing, visceral saga about the brave acts of women.”
— Cecily Wong, author of Diamond Head