Ahlam, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee and his Israeli wife, grows up in the arid lands of desert suburbia outside of Phoenix. In a stark landscape where coyotes prowl and mysterious lights occasionally pass through the nighttime sky, Ahlam’s imagination reigns. She battles chronic fever dreams and isolation. When she meets her te...
Ahlam, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee and his Israeli wife, grows up in the arid lands of desert suburbia outside of Phoenix. In a stark landscape where coyotes prowl and mysterious lights occasionally pass through the nighttime sky, Ahlam’s imagination reigns. She battles chronic fever dreams and isolation. When she meets her tempestuous counterpart Laura, the two fall into infatuated partnership, experimenting with drugs and sex, and watching helplessly as a series of mysterious deaths claim high school classmates.
The girls flee their pasts for New York City, but as their emotional bond heightens, the intensity of their lives becomes unbearable. In search of love, ecstasy, oblivion, and belonging, Ahlam and Laura’s drive to outrun the ghosts of home threatens to undo them altogether.
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“This debut powerfully evokes the sense of being an outsider.”
—The New Yorker
“Sonora is the most eerie and unusual coming of age story I've ever encountered—not a tale of innocence lost, but of innocence never had. In a story steeped in sorcery and curses, Assadi looks to the heavens, wild-eyed and bewildered.”
—Catherine Lacey, author of Nobody Is Ever Missing
“With penetrating grace, Hannah Lillith Assadi details the intoxicating precarity of being young and alive and desperate to change. Sonora is unforgettable and deeply felt, the type of book that brings you close, infiltrates you, and leaves you with the sense that you've just lived an entire life.”
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
“In Sonora, Hannah Lillith Assadi documents, with lyric ferocity, the agony, love, and bafflement of belonging to a family. A scorching story of youth and the losses and sorrows of growing up estranged.”
—Ben Marcus, author of Leaving the Sea
“Hannah Lillith Assadi's Sonora is a mystical and haunting landscape and she guides us through it with boundless grace and sharp, luminous poetry. This extraordinarily assured debut novel feels both old and timeless, like the desert and New York City, while remaining fresh and urgent and impossible to put down. Here we have a compelling cast of young and old, strangers and friends, lovers and family, immigrants and natives, as they try to find their place in a vast and complicated country. ”
—Robert Lopez, author of Kamby Bolongo Mean River
“Wise and poetic... Glimpses of the otherworldly abound, alongside an abiding interest in the cosmos, and Assadi’s lyrical prose nicely complements these preoccupations with the unreal or the ungraspable. The structure, moving back and forth in time and space, adds a sense of the magical to a sometimes tragic but always beautiful coming-of-age story.”
“The fiction and non-fiction titles to pick up this spring.”
“This poetic, multicultural novel will enchant younger adults or anyone who has ever felt out of place in the world.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review on Sonora
“Hannah Lillith Assadi's Sonora is a beautiful desert wind of a novel--wild, plangent and revealing. Fans of Denis Johnson will find in Assadi a similarly edgy and visionary writer. Both disturbing and touching, Sonora is a brilliant debut novel. Assadi is an exciting talent, and a writer to watch.”