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St. Martin’s Releases Third Novel
by Award-Winning Author

     New York, NY–Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press announces the publication of a new novel from award-winning author Merry Whiteford. Merry Whiteford’s two previous books are the critically acclaimed Burning Down the House, loosely based on her former marriage to author Jay McInerney, and Dog People, a dark coming of age story set in 1968 New England. Her new book, IF WISHES WERE HORSES (Thomas Dunne Books/St.Martin’s Press; March 2003; Hardcover, $23.95), is a compelling, gracefully told story about the depths of friendship, the love between parent and child, the hope for redemption, and the heartbreaking choices one must make in a difficult, often brutal world.

     It is 1974, and sixteen year old Star Hennessey and her brother, Lucky, again become wards of the state when their mother, Mildred–a troubled alcoholic prostitute–is arrested on vice charges. After another of many brief stints in a Catholic orphanage, Star and Lucky are placed under the care of a down-at-the-heels foster couple with their own troubles and the responsibility of two other foster children (psychotic Skeeter and brawny, simple Pig) to worry about. Star’s relationship with Mildred is complex: From time to time, Mildred arrives on the scene, sometimes drunk and full of outlandish plans and promises. Sometimes it is Star who visits her mother, hoping to catch her unengaged. Regardless, what becomes clear from their interactions is that while Mildred is the parent, it is often Star who must supervise–comforting a dejected Mildred, tucking her mother into bed, caring for her when she is drunk. In these hard circumstances, Star has preserved her own innocence and hope through her love of poetry.

     Now Star’s life is complicated further when she discovers that she is pregnant with Pig’s child. Through the story, Star searches for the money for an abortion–making both small and enormous sacrifices along the way–without having truly made the decision to have one. When at last she has gained the money for the procedure, Star is able to make a choice–more, she is able to decide as her best self would, as her search has brought her not just money, but self-knowledge. Finally, writing becomes more than a pastime, and Star is able to take the pieces of her cruel childhood and fashion something beautiful with them.

IF WISHES WERE HORSES explores the harshness of the world, and the beauty that can be mined from it with faith and hope.

Copyright 2003  Merry Whiteford