"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
In 1890, a young missionary, Addie, has traveled to the town of Lu-cho Fu with her husband, dreaming of making her mark on the world. But Addie’s desires change after meeting a brash and thoroughly modern woman, Poppy, who offers to transform Addie’s destiny. All the while, letters from Addie reach her sister Louisa back home, recently married and struggling with the quiet isolation of being a farmer’s wife. When violence erupts overseas between the Chinese and their unwelcome Christian intruders, Addie’s life takes a mysterious and haunting turn strongly felt by her sister, Louisa, back home.
By 1958, Louisa’s daughter Hazel is fighting to maintain control of her land and family in the aftermath of her husband’s untimely death. Reeling from the tragedy, she finds herself drawing closer to the neighboring Hughes family and in the process learns that grief takes on many forms.
One hundred years after Addie’s disappearance, Juanlan returns to her hometown with no job and no options. She finds her father ailing and her pregnant sister-in-law restless and angry. While her family and town are rapidly changing, Juanlan feels frozen in place. In search of an outlet for the live wire she feels buried inside, she starts up a love affair with a married man.
Interconnected by action and consequence, each woman’s tale brilliantly displays the fleeting intensity of youth, the obligation of family, and the dramatic consequence of charting your own destiny. A vibrant story of compassion and discovery set against a century of complicated relations between China and America, Rebellion celebrates those who fight against expectation in pursuit of their own thrilling fate, and introduces a rising literary star.
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.” — BookPage
“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.” — Booklist
“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