Gertie MacLarsen believes she was given ugliness at birth. Growing up in an estranged home, the only times she feels beautiful are the nights her father comes in to show her the stars. The day of her 16th birthday, the same day that Sputnik traverses the sky, Gertie's life is irrevocably changed. After a family tragedy, her elusive and alcoholic mother sends her to Willow Estate, a private mental institution, where she is thrown into a world of harsh therapies, dangerous hospital politics, and, surprisingly, a sense of family.
Within the walls of Willow Estate Sanatorium, Gertie finds awfulness and grace, terror and family. From hydro and shock therapy, to first love, to rape and suicide, the only thing Gertie is sure of from day to day is that growing up is not a choice and that forgiveness and acceptance are perhaps the greatest gifts anyone can give. As Gertie learns her fellow patients' stories, she realizes she is not the only one alone in this giant universe and that finding yourself sometimes means letting the past versions of yourself go and letting others help you define your own center of gravity.
Set against the historical backdrop of the early space race and freighting mental therapies circa 1950's, THE SHAPE OF THE ATMOSPHERE features a spectrum of supporting characters that brings the dramatic setting to life and a plot that explores what it means to know yourself in a world that never stops expanding and changing, and that humanity is possible, in any universe.
|6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.53(d)
|14 - 17 Years
About the Author
Jessica Dainty is a native New Englander, who has bounced back and forth from the Northeast to Tennessee over the past 20 years. Jessica works as an English/Special Education teacher and Reading Interventionist in her county school system. When she is not writing her own words, she loves helping her students fall in love with reading, especially those who may have given up on it long ago. In addition, she coaches her high school swim team, does contract editing, tutors, and is an avid knitter.
She received her undergraduate from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where she started in poetry. She took her first fiction workshop for the simple reason that it terrified her, and after that, she never looked back. She continued on to earn her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she studied with Hester Kaplan and AJ Verdelle, among others.
Jessica is drawn to darker literature with a slight silver lining of hope, and her writing reflects this. Her debut novel, THE SHAPE OF THE ATMOSPHERE, is a historical coming of age story set against the backdrop of the early space race about a young girl sent to a private mental institution in the 1950s. Additionally, Jessica's short stories have been published in various places, including SNReview, Fiction Weekly, Scholars & Rogues, and Composition Cooperative.
She is represented by Linda Camacho of Prospect Agency.
Connect with Jessica on social media! She's on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jessicadaintyauthor and Twitter at the handle @daintywriterj3.